Frederick C. Giffin
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Frederick C. Giffin

Frederick C. Giffin, 82, distinguished Arizona State University professor emeritus of history, died on March 13, 2021, following an extended struggle with cancer. Fred was a scholar of modern Russian history and Russian-American relations, whose publications ranged widely from analyses of late imperial-era Russian labor legislation to Cold War topics and biographies of American radicals and their ties with the Soviet Union. Twice honored with teaching awards from the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1985 and 1999, his popular single-semester course, "Soviet Union," introduced two generations of ASU students to the complexities of the twentieth-century Soviet experiment. Active in national and regional professional associations, Fred was also a generous academic citizen, serving in significant administrative roles within the university. He was assistant dean of the ASU Graduate College in the early 1970s, and chaired the ASU History Department during the period of its greatest expansion in the 1980s. Fred's success as a university administrator rested both on his uncompromising integrity and his mastery of detail. He leaves behind devoted students and colleagues who continue to bear the imprint he has had on their lives.

Son of the late Frederick S. and Sarah (Beam) Giffin of Pittsburgh, Fred took his baccalaureate degree from Denison University, graduating summa cum laude. At Denison he met his lifelong partner, the late Martha (Marty) Giffin, who served for a time as an elected member of the Tempe School Board. An early beneficiary of competitive NDEA Graduate Fellowship funding, Fred completed his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in the History Department at Emory University, serving for three years as assistant professor of Russian history at Southern Methodist University before assuming his position in the ASU History Department in 1967. Fred and Marty raised two sons, Frederick Scott of Leadville, Colorado, and the late Shawn Russell. In addition to his son Scott and daughter-in-law Shanon, he is survived by his two beloved grandsons, Jake and Kyle.

Fred was a devoted and loving husband, father, and grandfather; a passionate runner and exercise enthusiast; a lover of books and movies; and a proponent for numerous causes dedicated to animal welfare and environmental protection. He was a role model to many and well-loved by family and friends. He will be greatly missed. No formal services are planned at this time. Richardson Funeral Home, Tempe, Arizona is compassionately serving the Giffin family.

"What you ARE stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Published in The Arizona Republic from Apr. 1 to Apr. 4, 2021.
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2 entries
April 4, 2021
I have taken classes at two community colleges and three state universities, and Dr. Giffin stands out as one of the best professors I had. His lectures were always well organized and engaging. I also recall him complaining about the image of a professor in the media, because his young son cried when he learned his father was a professor--the boy's only knowledge of such was the "mad professor" in the cartoons. My condolences to your family. I want you to know I learned a lot from him and remember him with great respect.
Patt Leonard
April 2, 2021
I took his course on the Soviet Union in Spring 1972. Challenging and always interesting... he was a superb teacher. Many thanks.
Joe Schallan
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