Former radio host and activist April Kauffman — a woman known throughout the region as a tireless advocate for veterans — was at the high point of her life.

Earlier this month, Kauffman, who was found fatally shot in her Linwood home Thursday, had been chosen from a crowd of 1,400 nominees for a governor’s award for community service. And she had finally seen progress on her campaign to ensure that veterans would be able to seek medical care locally rather than traveling to a VA in Wilmington, Del.

“Literally, yesterday, she was telling me that this was the absolute best time of her life. She said getting the local medical care for veterans was her crowning achievement,” said Donna Clementoni, a friend and fellow veterans advocate who had just finished writing an articleon Kauffman’s recent achievements she hoped to have published. “She was such a light in this world, and she did so much good. I’m just absolutely shocked that she’s gone.”

Kauffman, the wife of Egg Harbor Township-based endocrinologist James Kauffman, was known throughout the region for various volunteer efforts. She had recently helped raise money for Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Snow, a father of five who was left severely handicapped after serving in Iraq.

She had spent a decade volunteering with a Coast Guard initiative that places recruits with local families for the holiday season, and she often raised money for various causes on a radio show she hosted on WOND-AM 1400 until February. She also co-hosted “The King Arthur Show” on WIBG, where co-host Arthur Gropper gave her the nickname  “Blond Bombshell of the Airwaves” for her bubbly personality and tenacious support of veterans causes.

“What a shock … her of all people,” said Atlantic County Veterans Services Director Robert Frolow. “She was just a dynamo. Everything we accomplished in the last year in this area — as far as health care, interaction with the governor and everything else — she was just the high point of. She was aggressive. She knew a lot of people and never took no for an answer.”

Beyond the local community, Kauffman was even known as a powerful presence to federal elected representatives.

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, knew Kauffman for about 10 years through her community efforts and said it was her “dogged persistence” that made her an effective activist for veterans’ rights.

“Where others may have asked and didn’t get the result they wanted, April refused to accepted ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ as an answer — no matter who it was,” LoBiondo said. “April was one of those individuals who made an incredible commitment and spent an incredible amount of time and energy advocating for our nation’s heroes. I was privileged to have worked with her.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said he was shocked by the news and called Kauffman a fierce advocate for the state’s veterans.

“April was a patriot in every sense of the word, and her tireless work on behalf of those who served made a real difference in the lives of many,” Menendez said.

Atlantic County Freeholder Frank Formica met Kauffman through her work to support veterans. He said her persistence and tireless resolve made her stand out from the crowd.

“She got audiences with people you just wouldn’t expect. She would drive to Washington, D.C., and demand to be heard. She got results,” Formica said. “When you have somebody so vibrant and tenacious, it’s just unconscionable to hear what happened to her.”

Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska, the public affairs officer at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, spoke about Kauffman’s impact on Operation Fireside, a collaborative program between the Coast Guard and the American Red Cross that places recruits with families over the holiday season while they’re away from loved ones. She was also a member of the board of directors for the Southern Shore Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“We were obviously extremely saddened to hear the news and our deepest sympathies go out to Miss. Kauffman’s family and friends during this difficult time,” Brzuska said. “We’re disheartened by her family’s tragic loss and the loss it will be for all of the servicemen and women in South Jersey.”

Kauffman, a graduate of Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, was not only a volunteer and radio host, but also had her hand in other local business endeavors. She owned the Artistic Salon and Cherry Caterers, both on Tilton Road in Northfield.

Gropper, her co-host on WIBG, said Kauffman was always on her Blackberry and had thousands of contacts. She used every resource at her disposal to further the causes she supported. She was ecstatic when she recently learned that veterans would be able to receive hospital services locally - a cause she had long fought for.

“April was on the air Wednesday between 2 and 4. We were literally celebrating,” Gropper said. “Talking to her in the parking lot, I asked her what’s next. She said, ‘We’ll find something else to fight for and fight the good fight.’”

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