Cover photo for Robert Thomas Griffin's Obituary
Robert Thomas Griffin Profile Photo
1938 Robert 2019

Robert Thomas Griffin

March 7, 1938 — March 29, 2019

Robert Thomas “Bob” Griffin was born March 7, 1938 in West Branch, MI. He passed away on Friday, March 29, 2019 at his home in West Branch. His father William Griffin came from England with his parents when he was twelve. William died when Bob was two years old, leaving Bob’s mother, Mary Ann Meir Griffin to raise him, two sisters and a brother on their small family farm. His grandchildren now living in West Branch make the sixth generation of his family (on his mother’s side) to reside in Ogemaw County.

Bob began working on the farm at a young age. He never lost his love of the land. Over the years he acquired land for farming, hunting and business purposes. As he said, “They just aren’t making it anymore”.

When Bob’s father died, his mother supported the family by running the tavern that eventually became Jerry’s Joint. After graduating from St. Joseph Catholic High School in 1957, Bob worked for a meat packing company and then a local trailer manufacturing company, before entering the beer business; first working for a one-truck distributor and then going to a larger local distributor. He also continued with his farming and built up his cowherd.

In 1967, he purchased half of the distributorship and became a partner. In 1978, the partnership was divided with Bob taking the West Branch, Alpena and St. Ignace locations and selling the Coca Cola bottling operation in Sault St. Marie. Over the years, Griffin Beverage purchased other operations, and expanded into the Saginaw area, and as far away as Marquette. Griffin Beverage now has one of the largest full service coverage areas in the State of Michigan, with 4 distribution centers, over 200 team members, over 40 delivery trucks, and an over the road fleet of 14 semis, supplying products to 43 Michigan counties. The company celebrated 50 years of business in 2017. In addition to the farm and beverage company, Bob established West Branch Tank and Trailer in the late 1980s as a heavy-duty truck and trailer parts and repair store to complement the beverage business. This business expanded into auto parts with the addition of the NAPA franchise in 2007.

Bob enjoyed farm equipment and collected antique tractors, cast iron implement seats and other farm items. He participated in the founding of the Pioneer Power Antique Tractor and Engine Club and was involved with their annual shows. He has driven his antique tractors across the Mackinaw Bridge many times. Bob served on the First Bank Board of Directors for several years and on the steering committee that worked with Ogemaw County Historical Museum developing its current location. He was a 50-year member of the table at Mac’s Restaurant where local happenings are discussed and they work on trying to solve the problems of the world.

Bob supported many worthy causes, such as helping the Humane Society to finance their building and worked with the Ogemaw County Veterans when they enlarged the Ogemaw County Veterans Museum at the fairgrounds. Bob also supported other organizations such the Tolfree Foundation, Hospice of Helping Hands for their grief camp, little league and soccer teams, Relay for Life, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, various activities at the Ogemaw County Fair, etc. (In 1992 he was able to purchase an antique fire truck that was originally owned by the WB fire department. This is now on exhibit at the fairgrounds.) He supported many community activities and fundraisers, with either equipment, signage, products, or dollars. The organizations he supported are too numerous to list, but included, in addition to the ones listed above, Optimist Club, Kiwanis Club, Ogemaw County Food Bank and local food trucks, Friends for TNR, and the Ogemaw County Game Refuge. He also established an endowed scholarship fund for local students. Bob always tried to be involved and help our community. In 2015 he and his wife Nancy were awarded The Grand Angel Volunteer Award from the John Tolfree Health System “for their humble and ever-present leadership and generous commitment to our community and region”. They were honored to be chosen to be the Grand Marshall’s of the 2018 West Branch Christmas parade.

Bob would never retire, as he loved to work. In recent years, he was often operating farm equipment from one farm to another or cutting hay. He continued to be involved with Griffin Beverage company operations. He really liked people and accepted everyone as he/she was. He did not judge and wanted to help anyone when he thought he/she needed help.

Bob did like to travel and he and Nancy have traveled on six continents, all fifty US states, and nine Canadian provinces. They rafted through the Grand Canyon, watched polar bears in Churchill and saw the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania. They liked Mexico and went there often. Recently they cruised through the Panama Canal. He also enjoyed having their children and grandchildren travel with them and have traveled with them to Mexico to see gray whales in their birthing lagoons, to Tanzania on safari, the Bahamas and Caribbean, and of course Disney World. They also did several years of grandchildren only camping trips to various locations including many Michigan parks as well as The Boundary Waters, Mammoth Cave area and Voyageurs National Park.

Bob is survived by his wife of 56 plus years, Nancy. They have two children; Lori (John) Flynn of Canton, MI and Robert, Jr. (Brenda) of West Branch. Grandchildren Meghan Flynn, Shannon Flynn, Delani Griffin, Riley Griffin and Robby (Robert Griffin III). Bob’s sister Dorothy Wachowski, (Alpena), brother-in-law Robert VanSickle,(Midland) and sister-in-law Sally Rea (West Branch) survive him as well as many nieces and nephews. His brother, Harry William “Benny” Griffin, sister, Theresa VanSickle , sister-in-law Dorothy Griffin Meiser and brother-in-law Eugene Wachowski predeceased him.

Visitation at Steuernol & McLaren Funeral Home in West Branch will begin on Friday, April 5, 2019 from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Celebration of Life Mass will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. with visitation starting at 10:00 a.m. Father Emmanuel Finbarr will officiate.

In lieu of flowers memorial are suggested to West Branch High School Endowment Scholarship Fund " Orioles Forever", Ogemaw County Historical Museum, Ogemaw County Humane Society, or the charity of your choice. For more information about each charity please contact the funeral home. Envelopes and pamphlets are available for each. See Weblinks below.

Online condolences can be shared at www.steuernolmclaren.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Thomas Griffin, please visit our flower store.

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Visitation

Saturday, April 6, 2019

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Memorial Service

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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