Siler City – Mr. DeWitt Barnhill Griffin was born on November 24, 1927 to John William Griffin and Eula Mae Barnhill Griffin in Spencer, NC, where his father worked for the railroad. He was raised in Phoebus, VA and graduated from Hampton High School in June of 1946.
DeWitt began his career in retail management with Rose’s dime stores after volunteering for military service and being classified 4F. In 1951, after the start of the Korean War, Uncle Sam came calling and he was inducted into the U.S. Army as part of the 399th Evac Hospital. He graduated from The Medical Field Service School at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he was trained as an x-ray technician. He rose to the rank of sergeant while the 399th was stationed in Landstuhl, Germany. He was immensely proud of his service for the rest of his life. He was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and belonged to the Wayne Mendenhall Siler City American Legion Post 93.
After an honorable discharge from the service, DeWitt resumed his retail management career with Rose’s and later Wood’s dime stores. While managing the Wood’s store in Wadesboro, NC he met the love of his life, Betty Sue Gathings Griffin. They were wed on September 22, 1957. They had two children, a son David DeWitt Griffin, and a daughter Nancy Sue Griffin. After two years in Chapel Hill, NC the family moved to Siler City, NC in 1968, where he managed the Wood’s store for many years. Rather than leave Siler City when asked to transfer, he chose to own and operate The Friendly Shopping Center on West 3rd Street. After many years he closed the small grocery store and went to work at Byrd’s Grocery Store in Siler City.
The family joined The First Baptist Church shortly after moving to Siler City. DeWitt was a member of the Rachel Allred Sunday School class and sang in the choir. He often volunteered for various duties serving the church. He also sang in the Sandy Creek Baptist Association Jubilee Choir, performing programs praising the Lord at a variety of churches and nursing homes. DeWitt lived his life as a devout Christian. He was unwavering in his faith and service to the Lord. He was even tempered with a kind, compassionate heart, which was evident in his love for both people and animals, and his genial sense of humor.
Never one to sit idle, he continued his devotion to community service in retirement. He was involved in Siler City’s downtown revitalization efforts as a member of the town’s NC STEP and SCDU organizations. He also assisted with the launch of the Milo Holt Film Festival.
DeWitt dedicated most of his energy to the Siler City Lions Club where he enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow members as much as the club’s civic projects. He served stints as the club’s president, a District 31-G zone chairman, and was a relentless recruiter for the club’s membership committee. He also helped organize and participated in the club’s blood drives. He was passionate about fundraising for the club: installing and stocking the mint racks, as well as participating in broom sales, pancake breakfasts, raffle ticket sales, and the merchant flag program. The funds raised benefited the visually impaired as well as local needs and international disaster relief. He served as the District Vision Van Chairperson, bringing free eye exams to local communities, for which he received a certificate of appreciation from District 31-G. He was the local club’s Lion of the Year 2000-2001. He was designated a William L. Woolard “Partner-in-Service” Program Fellow by the NC Lions Foundation and was designated a Melvin Jones Fellow by the Lions Club International Foundation for “dedicated humanitarian services”. In 2017, the local club honored him by making him a Life-Time Member.
Peacefully, DeWitt passed away at his home on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 while being attended to by both his children. He is preceded in death by both his parents, John William Griffin and Eula Mae Griffin Swatts, his stepfather Arthur Swatts, his brother David Edward Griffin, and his wife of 51 years, Betty Sue Gathings Griffin, and many pets, most recently his canine companion Dexter. He is survived by his son David D. Griffin of Siler City, daughter Nancy S. Griffin of Asheboro, NC, several sisters-in-law, a brother-in-law, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church of Siler City, the Siler City Lions Club, or the ASPCA.
Due to public gathering restrictions issued by the State of North Carolina, funeral services will be private. We hope to have a public celebration of life service in the future.
The family wishes to thank all the people, too numerous to name individually, who have helped with his care in the past few years. The staffs of Bayada Home Health Care, Genesis Healthcare Siler City Center, Liberty Home Care of Siler City, Liberty Hospice, Chatham Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Hospital of Durham, NC.
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