John A. Kaufmann, 89, of Mount Airy, a Lutheran minister and administrator who served the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia for 65 years, died of kidney failure Dec. 6 at Visiting Nurse Association Hospice in East Falls.

Dr. Kaufmann joined the seminary staff after graduating from the school in 1944, the year he was ordained a Lutheran minister.

For more than 40 years, his official title was registrar - keeping track of seminarians and their academic records - but he performed many other duties. He was treasurer and bursar; was in charge of food service; managed maintenance and supervised building projects; handled public relations, including tours; and edited the seminary Bulletin, now known as PS magazine. He also served as alumni secretary, and for many years he was admissions director.

The recipient of an honorary doctorate from the seminary, he was known to staff and students as Dr. Kaufmann. "John secretly looked forward to the pranks of the students and loved their imagination," said seminary president Philip D.W. Krey.

After retiring in 1990, Dr. Kaufmann continued to live on the campus, serving as assistant secretary to the board of trustees, assistant to the president, and a consultant for campus construction projects.

Dr. Kaufmann grew up in Reading, where his father, Harry, was a Lutheran minister. He attended Lehigh University in the years immediately before World War II and applied for advanced ROTC study, which would likely have led to a military commission.

"I flunked the physical," he said in an interview for PS magazine, and when urged to take it again, "I flunked it a second time, too. I often wonder what would have happened in my life had I passed."

Instead of joining the military when he graduated summa cum laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa from Lehigh in 1941, he joined the seminary.

Dr. Kaufmann's wife, Doris, and a son, Alan, died in 1993. He is survived by a son, Bruce.

A memorial service will be at 9:30 a.m. April 28, in the chapel at Lutheran Theological Seminary, 7301 Germantown Ave.

Memorial gifts may be made to the John A. Kaufmann Enrollment Services Center, Lutheran Theological Seminary, 7301 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia 19119.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.