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Roy Richmond Griffin of Little Rock, departed this life to join his beloved wife of 61 years and 13 days, Bertha (Bert) Cooper Griffin, on May 18, 2017. He was born on April 3, 1918, in Anderson, Alabama. During the 99 years of his life he was an inspiration to many; a beloved father to Jackie Griffin, Susan Griffin (Tom Kilgore), and JoAnn Kirchner (Jeff); cherished grandfather to Angela Kelly, Walt Kelly (JeanAnne), Christen Kirchner, and Jessica Thein (Jason); and adored great-grandfather to Griffin Melson, Noah Melson, Aiden Kelly, Cooper Kelly, Phoenix Erlmann, and Preston Thein. He is survived by two of his nine brothers and sisters, Ray Griffin of Silsbee, Texas, and Betty Ann Morris (Jack) of Cullman, Alabama. He also leaves behind many nieces, nephews, and scores of friends who became part of his family because he so generously welcomed others into his life.

He was an extraordinary man who lived a life unlike any other. Roy’s early life was spent in the cotton fields of Alabama and Mississippi, where his family sharecropped. On September 20, 1940, prior to Pearl Harbor, he volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army. Before being deployed to Europe, he “stole” the love of his life out of her senior high school classes and married her in secret with only his mother and baby sister (Betty Ann) as witnesses. During his military service, he helped establish the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment, the first land sea unit in the U.S. Army, training with British and Canadian forces in the Irish Sea. This unit subsequently established beach heads allowing troops and heavy equipment to land in French Morocco in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Normandy, where he was wounded and received a Purple Heart on the battle field. Following the invasion of France and then Germany, he and 150 men were stranded without weapons during the Battle of the Bulge. While the rest of his unit returned to the United States, he was reassigned to serve under General Patton, re-entered Germany, and helped liberate Buchenwald Concentration Camp. He remained on the front lines until VE day. In total, his service record lists nine campaigns in the European Theatre. He only spoke of his war experiences after the death of his beloved Bert, because he didn’t want to upset her with what he had seen and done during the war.

The day after his discharge from the Army, he began a job “rough-necking” on oil rigs, the only job he felt he could do after the war because the noise and the focus it required kept him sane. After losing two fingers on the oil rigs (which he affectionately called what was left “nubby” and “nubby junior” to the delight of all children), he held many positions, ultimately working as an equipment manager for International Harvester.

Following the 2003 death of his wife, he travelled with his family and extended family, retracing his steps in WWII through France, Italy, and Sicily. In each setting he was celebrated by the children and grandchildren of those that he had liberated during his service.

He was a man of strong but quiet faith, the one who would mow the minister’s lawn at night so that no one would know who did it. He once stated that “You can be rewarded for your good deeds on earth or, if you do them without recognition, you can be rewarded in heaven.” He is certainly basking in his rewards with his cherished Bert today.

Roy was always a behind the scenes hero and never sought glory or fame. However, in his later years, he was recognized with several honors. He received the Amazing Spirit Award from Baptist Health in 2004. Later that same year, he was honored for his participation in the Normandy invasion in Valognes, France, by the French Government, during the 60th anniversary celebration of D-Day. Most recently, the ARVets Organization honored his military service as the 2014 Outstanding Veteran of Past Conflicts in a ceremony at the Clinton Library.

Most will remember these things: his unwavering faith; his exceptional wit; his mouthwatering biscuits and sawmill gravy; treasured time “porch sitting” with anyone who happened by; and his blackberry jam and home-grown tomatoes, which were, the best, period. He never had much material wealth, yet it would be hard to find a richer man. Those that were given the opportunity to know him were truly blessed.

The family acknowledges the exceptional healthcare he received from the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Arkansas Hospice, and Arkansas Veterans Hospice. In addition, the family thanks his special friends who loved and cared for him during the later years of his life, especially his “girls,” Suzanne Allbright and Paula Nance, Ed Slater, “the Limousine Driver,” and Kia Parker, his remarkable caregiver.

Visitation will be held on Monday, May 22nd from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at Griffin, Leggett, Haley and Roth Funeral Home, 5800 W. 12th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. Funeral services, May 23rd at 10:00 am, Woodlawn Baptist Church, 5520 Woodlawn Drive, with Bro. Ben Jones officiating. Burial, with Military Honors, May 23rd at 3:00 pm, County Line Cemetery, Glen Allan, MS.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you send a donation in his honor to Arkansas Hospice Veterans Program; 14 Parkstone Circle, NLR, AR 72116.