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1935 - 2019
Harry GRIFFIN Obituary
GRIFFIN, Jr., Harry L. "Buck" (1935-2019) Buck was seen by all as the ultimate southern gentleman. For his entire life he had a gift of making others feel seen and heard, and that warm smile and interest in others endured until the end. A renaissance man, he loved politics, history, British mysteries, classical music, Presidential libraries, fly fishing and gardening. After retiring from his law practice, he went back to college, auditing a variety of courses, including Spanish, which he spoke fluently. However, Buck did have a few eccentricities, the most notable collecting coffee mugs from places he visited...dozens and dozens of coffee mugs, which were rotated in a precise and unchanging sequence. Buck died peacefully of heart failure on July 9, 2019, in Billings, Montana. His last months were spent in his beloved Nye, MT, where he had lived for the last 18 summers fishing, hiking, and being with much-loved friends and family. Born May 1, 1935, and raised (mostly) in Charlotte, North Carolina, Buck was the only child of Harry Griffin and Irma Rosa (Rose) Griffin, nee Waters. His father's work as a publicist for the Department of Labor took them to Alabama and Virginia during his school years, but he considered Charlotte home until he moved to Atlanta in 1963. He is survived by his wife, Deborah Griffin, his children Harry (Hal) L. Griffin, III, (Maria), David Griffin, Heather Griffin, (Terry) and Andrea Griffin as well as Zachary Pitts (Shawna), and Tate South (Ken). His grandchildren, Kayla Griffin, Oban Pitts, and Amelie Pitts also survive him, along with Brenda Raudenbush Griffin, his first wife. At age 16 Buck lost his dad to a heart attack, and after graduation from Charlotte Central High School two years later he was encouraged by a local businessman to attend Harvard College. He was accepted and always remembered that time as the start of a new life for him. After graduating with a degree in American History, he served two years in the Army in the Counter-Intelligence Corp. Buck, who was a political junkie and an avowed liberal Democrat, loved to read the paper and his assignment was to "eat donuts and read the paper looking for communist activity" which he claims he never found. After the Army he attended Duke University School of Law where he served on the Law Review his third year and developed a lifelong passion for Constitutional Law though his professional career was in construction law. Buck joined Smith, Currie & Hancock in Atlanta, Georgia in 1963, quickly becoming partner, client rainmaker, chief recruiter of new associates and mentor to many. He was a favorite among clients and younger lawyers, and was held in high esteem by opposing counsel, included those he routinely bested. His credo, borrowed from a famous jurist, was "Strive mightily but eat and drink as friends." No one did that better than Buck Griffin. In 1980, Buck founded Griffin Cochrane Marshall & Elger where he achieved notable success as a construction lawyer and built a formidable law firm. From 1980 until his retirement, he served clients, wrote articles on construction law, gave seminars and taught courses at Georgia Tech and at Colorado State University (handily near mountain streams where he dueled trout). Most of all, Buck inspired so many young lawyers to love what they did and who they worked with, and to pursue the balance, humor and humanity he always displayed. Buck also put his heart into his adopted city of Atlanta. There was an unsuccessful run for the Atlanta Board of Aldermen as the "Candidate Who Cares," service on the boards of The Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Good Government Atlanta, and The Council on Battered Women. He was also a member of the Atlanta Commission on Crime and Juvenile Delinquency and a member of the Human Relations Committee of the City of Atlanta. His honors and contributions were many, from recognition as a great trial lawyer and construction law expert, sought-after lecturer on construction law, to esteemed member of Board of Directors of Construction Law Section of Atlanta and Georgia Bar Associations, and American Arbitration Association Committee. In 1989, Buck was a Founding Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers, now the preeminent group of construction lawyers in the US. Following his retirement from the practice of law, Buck was a sought-after arbitrator and mediator using his experience, intellect, and personal magnetism to resolve numerous cases, some seemingly intractable. Despite a long list of professional accomplishments and accolades, what distinguished Buck was his humanity and humility. He was loved by all who crossed his path and he will be sorely missed by his family who appreciates the outpouring of love since his death. The interment of his ashes will be in Nye, MT later this summer, and there will be a celebration of his life in early October in Serenbe (Georgia) where he had spent his last four happy years of his life. Remembrances can be made to The Nye Community Foundation, marked for scholarship, P.O. Box 528, Nye, MT 59061.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from July 23 to Aug. 1, 2019
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