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Catherine Griffith

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Catherine Griffith
Longtime San Pedro resident Catherine Virginia Williamson Griffith died July 27 at age 89 in Petaluma, the Northern California town where she had moved in 2002 to live near her daughter and son-in-law Virginia (Ginny) and Mike Gustin. Born February 12, 1923 in Fredricksburg, Virginia, Catherine was the youngest of 5 children of Atwill C. and Margaret V. Williamson. After a childhood in Ocean View and Norfolk, Virginia, Catherine moved with her family to San Pedro in 1935, at the age of 12. She attended Dana Jr. High and San Pedro High School, where she graduated in 1940. During her teens, Catherine was an active member of the First Methodist Church and the YWCA. Her favorite activity was serving as a teen volunteer at the San Pedro Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, where she assisted the children's librarian with story times and worked in the library's toy loan program. Later in life, before she moved to Petaluma, Catherine returned to library volunteering as a member of the Friends of the San Pedro Library. On July 19. 1941, Catherine met her future husband Gerald Griffith of Bakersfield at a dance at Fort MacArthur where Gerald, a recent UC Berkeley and new Army recruit, was stationed. They were married April 17, 1942 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and made their first home at the Boot Hill Motel in Tombstone, Arizona, near Fort Huachuca, where Gerald was stationed until he was sent overseas. After Gerald's 1946 return from service in the South Pacific, the couple made their home in San Pedro until Gerald's death at age 82 on July 24, 2000. Before she became a full-time mother, Catherine was employed at the Bureau of Fisheries, Dept. of the Interior in San Pedro. Catherine and Gerald's daughter Virginia and son Robert were born in San Pedro and attended 7th Street School, Dana Jr. High, and San Pedro High School. During their childhood's, Catherine was active as a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher at the 1st Methodist church, a Girl Scout and Boy Scout parent volunteer, and a PTA member at her children's 3 schools. She served as president of the 7th Street School PTA, where both she and Gerald were awarded honorary life memberships. Catherine was a 60-year member of Chapter GI, San Pedro, of the P.E.O. sisterhood, an organization that was a very important part of her life. She held numerous offices in Chapter GI, including 2 terms as president, and a term as president of the South Bay-Harbor P.E.O. Reciprocity. She also served as her chapter's delegate to the P.E.O Supreme (later called International) chapter's convention in New Orleans. In addition to Gerald, her husband of 58 years, Catherine was predeceased by her sisters, Myrtle(Bernard) McAllister of San Pedro, Margaret (C. Browning) Walter of McLean, Virginia, and Mary Louise (J. Edwin) Duvall of Washington, D.C. and her brother, Winfred (Dora Lee) Williamson of DeRidder, Louisiana. She was also predeceased by her niece, Margie Lou McAllister Self and her nephews, Robert McAllister and Richard Duvall. Catherine's survivors include her daughter, Virginia (Mike) Gustin of Petaluma, CA and her son, Robert of Auburn, CA, as well as her grandson, Wesley Griffith, granddaughter, Emily Griffith, and their mother, Michele Marta. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren, including former San Pedro residents, Megan Self Render, Brian and Kevan Self, and their father, Keith Self. A private family graveside service was held at Green Hills Memorial Park. Anyone wishing to make a memorial contribution is encouraged to send a donation to the Friends of the San Pedro Library, 931 S. Gaffey Street, San Pedro, CA 90731 or to the Mary Louise Remy Endowed Scholar Award of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, P.E.O. Executive Office, Treasurer's Dept., 3700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312. Please sign the guestbook at www.dailybreeze.com\obits.

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Published in Daily Breeze on Aug. 7, 2012
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