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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2019 2 years ago

Author Terry Griffin dies at 76

Griffin died on Feb. 21. A celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 3.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor

Terry Griffin was persistent.

When his college scholarship didn’t come through in time, he joined the U.S. Army.

When he finished his service, he went to Mercer University in Macon, Ga., and finished his undergraduate degree in three years.

 A few years later, he completed law school.

When he was semi-retired as lawyer, he self-published two books.

And in 2013, when he was found to have pulmonary fibrosis, and a doctor told him nothing could be done, he didn’t accept that.

In May 2017, he had a double lung transplant and fought for more time with his family.

Author H. Terrell “Terry” Griffin died Feb. 21 at the age of 76.

Locally, Griffin is best known for his Matt Royal Mystery series. The series was not only an outlet for Griffin’s creativity, but it was also his connection to Longboat Key. Throughout the series, Griffin included various Longboat Key residents and workers. Susan Phillips, Steve Branham, Mike and Lyn Haycock, Sam Lastinger and Ethna and Chris Lynch are just a few of the Longboat Key folks in the pages of Griffin’s books.

“He loved the island,” his wife, Jean Griffin, said. “Longboat Key was a special place for him, and he thought that people would enjoy hearing about Longboat Key, and I think they did because a lot of people came and wanted to visit some of the places he mentioned in his books.”

Bob and Pat Gussin, owners of Oceanview Publishing, first met Griffin about a decade ago at a Lido Key writers’ meeting that was honoring J.D. MacDonald, a crime and suspense author.

Griffin had already self-published two books but agreed to let the Gussins publish his third, and eventually, following books.

“Terry got a reputation as being a writer who wrote most like J.D. MacDonald as anyone around here,” Bob Gussin said.

Outside of his writing, Griffin was known for his ability to make friends wherever he went. Jean Griffin still remembers her first impression of Griffin, which rang true for their whole lives.

“I thought he was a very friendly, nice guy, you know like the boy-next-door type,” she said. “He was always nice to everybody. He made a lot of friends, and he was honest in practicing law. That was important to him, his integrity.”

His integrity is something he passed on to his three sons.

“He always made it a point to tell my brothers and I how important it is in life to be honest and treat people fairly,” Mike Griffin said. “All it takes is one time to treat someone unfairly, and it’ll stay with you forever.”

Mike Griffin said that by virtue of his career as a lawyer, Terry Griffin held his principles and integrity high. Along with integrity, Griffin taught his sons the value of a strong work ethic.

“He always taught us that any job worth doing is worth doing right,” Mike Griffin said.

Griffin is survived by his wife, Jean; three sons Greg, Chris and Mike; daughter-in-law Judy; grandchildren Kyle and Sarah; brother Tommy Griffin and his wife, Nancy; sister Nancy Thornton and her husband, Tim; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made to The Bartch Transplant House of the Advent Health Transplant Institute in Orlando.

I’m Katie. I’m the Longboat Observer community editor, which means I cover all people, places and things pertaining to Longboat Key. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2016 with degrees in journalism and Spanish. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 364.

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