George W. Griffin who became Havelock’s first mayor died last week. He was 93. Friends have said he took great pride in community relations, public service and, being the son of a farmer, took pride in a familiar lush backyard garden and vineyard.


He also defined the town with his generosity and hard work.


He was a native of Pitt County, first coming to Havelock in 1948 – eventually working for Cherry Point in a clerk capacity and becoming the first GS-15 of the base’s Civil Service – a level reserved for supervisors and top-level technical professionals. He also received awards for 20 years of work at Cherry Point by the former Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF).


Commissioner Danny Walsh first met Griffin when Walsh arrived in Havelock in 1964 as a Marine. He held him in very high regard and noted that Griffin would always go out of his way for others. He would use the vegetables in the garden, take them out to friends and sometimes cook for people and take it to their houses.


First elected mayor in 1959, Griffin would serve five years and then be reelected in 1998 until 2004.


"He was a great guy. I served with him when he was mayor my first year as a commissioner back in 2003, I guess it was. I had a great deal of respect for him. He was a true gentleman, a great friend." Walsh said.


During his first tenure as mayor Griffin met astronaut and later U.S. Senator John Glenn in 1963. Glenn, who had just become the first American to orbit the Earth, and had served as a Marine Corps aviator at Cherry Point, returned to the town.


Former mayor and commissioner Jimmy Sanders, who spent 29 years in city government also had a long history of working with Griffin as well as a long-standing friendship.


"I’ve know George all of my adult life. I grew up maybe a block and a half from George’s house. George and my dad were on the first town board. My dad was a commissioner and George was the mayor. And later I served with George as the mayor; I was commissioner. We’ve always been good friends. I never heard anyone say they didn’t like George or they didn’t respect George," said Sanders.


They ran against each other once for mayor in 1997 with Sanders losing, but said there never seemed to be any rivalry between each other.


"I didn’t take it personal; I don’t think George did. We always liked each other. We always cared about each other. We always respected one another," Sanders said.


"He was one of the mainstays of Havelock for most of our history, and he definitely will be missed," he added.


Edward Ellis, renowned Havelock historian and author now living in Florida paid tribute to Griffin’s contributions on his Havelock History Facebook Page with vintage photos and writes: "I called him ‘Mr. Griffin’ for most of my life. And it seems like I’ve known him my entire life. A lot of folks probably feel the same way.


"George was a friend of my dad from working at Cherry Point. He was my boyhood Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church. I knew his beloved wife and went through public school with his kids. When I founded the Havelock News in 1986, George was one of a handful of supporters who bought lifetime subscriptions, thus contributing crucial funds to boost the fledgling newspaper," Ellis continued.


He agreed with Walsh’s estimation.


"George was a quintessential gentleman in the true sense of the word – a gentle man. He could be firm and knew what he wanted to do and he knew what was right. He was very well-liked and very well respected," Ellis said.


He related that people who impress others with their character and leadership skills are the ones who get elected mayor.