Shirley Leroy Griffin passed away on November 3, 2020 at his home, surrounded by loved ones, just two days shy of his 99th birthday. Known affectionately by his friends as “Griff,” he was a true son of Arbuckle, born and raised there, and then staying on through his long and happy life with his beloved wife, Merl, to raise his own family and countless crops of almonds.
Son of Isla (Putnam) Griffin and Leroy Griffin, Shirley lost his father before the age of two, and was raised through the Great Depression by his widowed mother. He helped out by holding a number of jobs, including delivering ice blocks and the local newspaper around town. After high school he pumped gas at Atran’s Garage and delivered groceries. One day his employer sent him and a friend up near Mount Lassen to cut and bring back a Christmas tree. On the trip back down the mountain, they stopped at a local bar where they learned that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. Ready to aid his nation, Shirley used his mechanic skills to enlist in the Army’s Ordinance Division, then zig-zagged across the Atlantic to avoid German U-Boats on a Liberty Ship all the way to North Africa. He fought the Germans there and in Italy, repairing tanks and trucks, a skill he later used to repair his own farm equipment.
After the War, Shirley met and married the love of his life, Merl Richter, of Woodland. He began farming for his Uncle, Irvin Griffin, shortly thereafter. The couple dedicated themselves to their family and community, volunteering in Boy Scouts, 4H, the Arbuckle Volunteer Fire Department, and other organizations. Shirley served as a director of the Colusa County Water District for a number of years. After his son took over care of the orchards, Shirley and Merl enjoyed a wonderful retirement, cruising around the Western United States and Canada in their motorhome. Merl passed away in 2008, after which Shirley continued living a life blessed by many friendships and happy times, including many hours of fishing at Lake Almanor. Shirley is survived by his son, Douglas (and Kathy Gordon Griffin), and daughter, Ruthellen (widowed), as well as grandchildren Shandon (and David Smith) and Trent Griffin (and Meagen Dillon), and William and Rachel Stein, as well as by two great grandchildren, Mikaelah Griffin and Callan Smith. He will be missed by all, including by his caregiver, Cathy Rush, who partnered with him in his beloved woodshop to produce dozens of miniature replicas of farm equipment and commercial vehicles, including an intricate fire engine now on display at the Arbuckle Volunteer Fire Department.
Shirley was a lifelong Mason as well as a member of affiliated Masonic orders, including the Shriners and Jesters. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Shriners Hospital for Children or the Arbuckle Volunteer Fire Department. A graveside Masonic service (open to the public) will take place on Thursday, November 12 at 10:30 a.m. at the Arbuckle Cemetery. A celebration of life is being planned for early 2021; more details on that are forthcoming.
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