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Fair Winds and Following Seas

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"The Senator"
Harold Cowan Griffin, Jr.
September 16, 1939 - February 3, 2022

A “Celebration of Life” will take place in Greer, SC on Saturday, April 9th at 2 pm.


Born Harold Cowan Griffin Jr in Gaffney, SC, to Harold and Mary Byers Griffin.

Hal. The Senator. Dad. Poppy.

Hal was not an elected official, didn’t particularly like them, nor did he ever wish to be one, but the title, "The Senator" was bestowed upon him by his mates in the United States Navy, where he served as Officer in Charge of the Swift Boat PCF 17 in 1966 and 1967 in Viet Nam.


On paper, Lieutenant Griffin looked good; U.S. Naval Academy, University of South Carolina, member of Mensa, and the AARP.


In person, Hal was a larger-than-life character with a booming voice and a heart of gold whose generosity and wrath were appreciated most of the time by some of his friends unless it fell between the hours of 7:30 and 8 pm, Monday through Friday when Jeopardy aired.


No one dared interrupt his time with Alex Trebek, who preceded him in death. Hal knew all the answers but only spoke the difficult ones out loud and rarely in the form of a question. He once tried out for the quiz show and would have been a contender if “it wasn’t for that damn buzzer.”


Hal loved food, cooking, and feeding people, and he was damn good at it, which explains so much of the loyalty shown him over the years, especially on New Year’s Day when you could overlook many things in exchange for fried chicken that would make you cry.


The exception being his collard greens which he never washed in order to “preserve the grit.”


For a time in the 1970’ and ’80s, Hal owned, managed, cooked at, and went broke running the restaurant Rue Madeline in Greenville. Former patrons are still encouraged to settle their debts and leave a positive Yelp review about the roast duck if possible. 


Mr. Griffin was not a religious man, but he did have many beliefs. One held that charades was a physical and competitive sport on the level of tennis or ice hockey. After hours, and on more nights than local officials were aware, tables in his restaurant were moved, drinks were served, and syllables were silently put forward.


Hal liked to travel unless it involved traveling, particularly if it involved airplanes, and so he loved cars and preferred General Motors vehicles, and if possible, he owned ones that were large and eccentric and unreliable. Mechanics in the Greenville area will mourn the loss of his patronage.


He was never appreciated for his home design skills, displaying a meticulously curated gallery of priceless antiques, worthless trinkets, and discarded pistachio shells among tens of thousands of vinyl records. The most well-worn albums were from the band Boston and singer Linda Ronstadt. The latter was frequently used to recover from too much of the former.


Books were an important part of the life of Hal, accompanying him in all endeavors and activities. Real books too, hard-covered and clothbound, because he would always choose paper over rocks, scissors, or a Kindle. Hal usually read a book twice before giving it a permanent home in his library. Because of his strict return policy, only a select few people were able to maintain check-out privileges. 


The Senator loved the sea and the beaches of the then undeveloped Kiawah and Edisto Islands, where he annually refined his crabbing skills with a dismembered chicken neck in one hand and a cocktail in the other.


It should be noted that Hal smoked cigarettes during a time when it was expected. By his own admission, he was great at it, especially at war and certainly in times of peace. He quit under protest some years ago but only for health reasons.


God forbid if Heaven is a smoke-free workplace.


Hal was predeceased by his parents, sister Makie Shell, and cats Booger, Dammit, and Cat. He is survived by his brother George G. B. Griffin, daughter Courtney Griffin Cordell of Greenville, and grandchildren Kylie and Griffin Cordell.


He leaves behind a loyal fan club that includes Mush, Poopsie, Horace, Pope, Boo, Shifty, Catfish, Wop, Baloney, Mort, Killer Lou, The Count, and The Whale.



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