Klaus Kupfersberger was a rare and exceptional human: quietly and persistently, he went about the business of living with gusto, determination, kindness, and humor. He was born in Bad-Neustadt, Germany in 1938 to Elisabeth (Dulk) and Hans Kupfersberger and experienced childhood in the throes of WWII. His father had lived in the USA before returning to Germany to take over the family plumbing business, and Klaus heard stories from an early age of the wonders of America.
Instead of plumbing, he apprenticed to be a baker at 13 and took those skills with him when he boarded a ship to the US at the age of 19. He joined his sister in Indianapolis, where he learned English and enrolled in night classes. He spent two years in the army reserves in Alaska after initial training in Texas, picking up Spanish along the way. It must have seemed a great adventure to him and he loved living there in the last American frontier with all its wild and untamed nature. As a young man, he idolized Teddy Roosevelt and loved to hunt.
After the army, he spent winters in Florida and summers in Vermont, working as a chef in high-end resorts. It was at one of these resorts, on Cape Cod, that he met his partner in life, Lin Wellford. They opened their first bakery and had their first two daughters in Florida before moving to the Ozarks in 1978, where they opened The Gingerbread Man Bakery in Green Forest and, eventually, welcomed their third daughter (and opened two more bakeries).
Klaus loved the beauty of the Ozarks but spent the next 20 years in the back of the hot bakery, making birthday cakes, bread, pastries, and submarine sandwiches for the whole county. With hard work and long hours, he devoted himself to providing for his family, living out the American Dream. In his spare time, he raised small herds of gazelle, deer, and goats. He loved to read everything from mystery novels to books on nature or art and collected Native American pottery and African masks alongside his hunting trophies and books. He shared his passion for reading and art with his children and worked hard to be a good father and husband.
Klaus retired from baking full-time in 1997 and bought Tom's Place, where he practiced his Spanish and raised exotic birds in the shop. People brought him abandoned baby birds and if he could, he raised them, too. Customers often called him Tom, and he never corrected them. Since he closed Tom's Place in 2015, he spent time gardening, fishing, and traveling across the country with his family. He loved swimming in the Osage with his wife and dog, Spanky, and being with his children and grandkids.
Together, Lin and Klaus became fixtures in Carroll County as business owners, landlords, and members of the United Methodist Church in Green Forest. But his personal ministry was in the form of baked goods he gave to those he cared for. His generosity and empathy was undertaken so subtly that we cannot know how many lives he touched.
Klaus died July 23rd, 81 years young, while swimming at the creek with Spanky, who never left his side. Klaus was preceded in death by his middle daughter, Erika Kupfersberger, his sister Elisabeth Seaver, and his parents. He is survived by his wife, his two daughters Skye Murphy and Kira Kupfersberger, son-in-law Matt Murphy and two grandchildren, Cameron and Catelin Pifer as well as his brother Karl Hans Kupfersberger and extended family in the US and Europe. He never stopped baking.
Memorial services will be held in the rear parking lot at the Green Forest United Methodist Church, Saturday August 1st at 6:30 PM. Masks and social distancing observed, we will remember this great man and welcome all who knew him to join us. Bring a lawn chair and your memories of Klaus. Donations in his name can be made to Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry and the Good Shepherd Humane Society.