Grace Giffen

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GIFFEN, GRACE CLEGHORN, 98, of Wahiawa, HI and Annapolis, MD, died October 22 of old age. Born in her maternal grandparents' home on Kahuku Sugar Plantation, Kahuku, Territory of Hawaii January 4, 1915 to the late Grace Olsen Cleghorn and William Arthur Cleghorn, Grace grew up in an exotic world full of animals, agriculture and bare feet. At home, peacocks acted as watchdogs and a wild piglet, Baby, which Grace raised, would follow her to school. In 1932, when her parents moved to Haiku, Maui where he father worked for the Haiku Fruit Company, Grace was left behind on Oahu to board at Punahou School. It was there that she took swimming lessons from Duke Kahanamoku, an early Hawaiian Olympian, and became a strict grammarian. Despite her fluency in pidgin English, Grace never mistook the proper use of the personal pronouns I and me. After graduating from Punahou she returned home to Maui. When her mother died unexpectedly, her father, looking for a change of scenery, took both his teenage daughters on a 'round-the-world tour. Returning six months later, Grace was off to business school. Upon graduation and until 1944, she worked as the personal secretary to the president of Honolulu Rapid Transit. But, as a Victorian daughter, she also kept her father's house until he remarried. Grace remembered the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor only too well a bomb, a dud, landed in their front yard during the Japanese attack on Wheeler Airfield and Schofield Barracks. It was during the War that Grace met her husband of 59 years, Capt. Robert (Skip) C. Giffen, Jr., USN, of Annapolis, MD. Skip was a submariner, in and out of Pearl Harbor on patrol when a mutual friend introduced them. They were married six weeks later - four of which Skip was gone - in a formal service at St. Andrew's Cathedral, Honolulu, serenaded by Hawaiian music. What followed was a typical military life, lots of moves, lots of new friendships and frequent separations. Somehow Skip always managed to get Grace back to the Islands every two or three years. And Grace, when asked where she was from, always said Hawaii. Following Skip's retirement, the couple settled in Annapolis in 1967 where Grace, an avid bridge player and gifted knitter, made new friends. In addition to knitting, Grace enjoyed travel, historical novels and flower arranging. Grace loved parties and accordingly loved the holidays. Her all time record was four different parties in a single evening. At the time of her death, Grace had outlived most of her contemporaries but she will continue to be loved by her family and friends for her strong sense of propriety, perfect grammar and encyclopedic knowledge of Emily Post. Grace was preceded in death by her mother in 1934, father in 1959, husband on April 16, 2003, brother, C.T. (Tom) Cleghorn of Wahiawa, HI in 1972 and sister Dagmar C. Baldwin, Haiku, Maui, HI in 1973. She is survived by her daughter Dagmar G. Cosby, her son Robert C. Giffen III (and wife Ann Lallande); her four grandchildren: Erin C. Plumb (and husband Marion), Carrington G. Cosby, Robert C. Giffen IV (and wife Katelyn), Nicole L. Giffen and her two great grandchildren: Grace and Emma Plumb. A private inurnment at the U.S. Naval Academy will be followed by a memorial service on November 8, 2013 at 11:00 am at Friendship Hall, Ginger Cove, 4000 River Crescent Dr., Annapolis, MD 21401 In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations in her name be made to: Punahou School, 1601 Punahou St, Honolulu, HI 96822 Online condolences may be made at
Published in The Capital on Nov. 5, 2013
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