2007.12.18: December 18, 2007: Headlines: Staff: Obituaries: Journalism: Honolulu Advertiser: Obituary for Peace Corps Staff Member John Griffin

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Library: Peace Corps: Staff: Peace Corps Staff: Newest Stories: 2007.12.18: December 18, 2007: Headlines: Staff: Obituaries: Journalism: Honolulu Advertiser: Obituary for Peace Corps Staff Member John Griffin

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-165-224.balt.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, December 26, 2007 - 7:08 am: Edit Post

Obituary for Peace Corps Staff Member John Griffin

Obituary for Peace Corps Staff Member John Griffin

From 1963 to 1964, he took a leave of absence from The Advertiser to work for the Peace Corps, evaluating programs in Asia and Africa.

Obituary for Peace Corps Staff Member John Griffin

Hawaii journalist John Griffin dies at 80

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

John Griffin

John Griffin, the former editorial page editor of The Advertiser whose work was informed by his experience as a foreign correspondent and a Peace Corps worker, was remembered yesterday for his objectivity, open-mindedness and wry sense of humor.

After his retirement in 1993, Griffin provided an eloquent voice on affairs particular to Asia and the Pacific.

"I consider him sort of a citizen of the world. I always liked talking to him," said his close friend, Lou Cannon, a retired Washington Post reporter and syndicated columnist.

Griffin, 80, died yesterday morning of cancer. Two of his three children and his wife, Susan Yim, former Advertiser managing editor of features, were at his side.

A longtime journalist, Griffin got his start in postwar Hawai'i, working as a columnist and editor at the University of Hawai'i student newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii, while pursuing an English degree.

During the latter part of World War II, he served in the Navy Air Corps, having dropped out of high school "to get in the action," he wrote in a column marking the 50th anniversary of the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan.

Training at the time with a bomber crew that was certain to join any invasion of Japan, Griffin wrote of his mixed emotions. The use of such terrible weapons against civilians probably saved his life and were probably the only way to stop the fighting.

"It was that kind of bitter war," he wrote.

His first full-time job came in 1953 at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Griffin worked as a copyboy — once a traditional entry-level newspaper job — before graduating to the reporting ranks.

In 1955, Griffin began reporting for The Associated Press and bagged datelines in such exotic Asian destinations as Manila, Indonesia, Singapore and Saigon.

Griffin was hired by The Advertiser in 1961 to cover Hawai'i politics after then-Editor-in-Chief George Chaplin interviewed him in the Saigon Airport.

Griffin had one more stop before he became editorial page editor. From 1963 to 1964, he took a leave of absence from The Advertiser to work for the Peace Corps, evaluating programs in Asia and Africa.

As editorial page editor, Griffin brought conscience, reason and a willingness to slam hard at any deserving editorial target. In more than 15,000 editorials, he sought to sell ideas, influence the course of public affairs and stimulate rational thought in his community.

"A lot of people don't realize that John was one of the better reporters The Advertiser ever had," said former publisher Thurston Twigg-Smith. "His experience in reporting, particularly his foreign service, made his later columns and comments that much more accurate and objective."

Even though he worked in the one section of the newspaper allowed to rant openly, Griffin, a political liberal, always took the high road. He balanced every editorial decision with fairness.

"He held strong opinions on a lot of issues, but he always tried to listen to the other side and to recognize that reasonable people could reach different conclusions from the same set of facts," said former Advertiser editor Gerry Keir. "He never wanted to go overboard or impute evil or bad motives to the other side. He would always try to make a rational argument."

Bob Dye, a Kailua-based historian and writer, was working for former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi when he first met Griffin.

"John was always exceedingly fair in everything he wrote about the city, which I always thought irritated George Chaplin," he said. "He always looked at the other side unfailingly."

Griffin was a skilled wordsmith who used language "as a scalpel instead of a bludgeon," Keir told readers when he announced Griffin's retirement in February 1993.

Keir wrote that Griffin was "perfect for the job."

Of course, there were times when Griffin's editorials infuriated readers. In February 1989, supporters of Ferdinand Marcos planned to burn a paper effigy of Griffin until police told them that was illegal.

So the protesters used a pocket knife, several kitchen knives and a handsaw with large jagged teeth to hack apart the effigy.

Griffin was genuinely amused by that.

"He believed in people arguing with him," Keir said. "When you run an editorial page, you like to think that every once in awhile you tick someone off — or else you aren't doing anything at all."

But he also helped bring people together. Charles E. Morrison, president of the East-West Center, said Griffin helped increase understanding of the Asia-Pacific region and Hawai'i's relations within it.

"Through his reporting, columns and talks before community groups, he spread knowledge and understanding of the complex dynamism of Asia and the Pacific islands," Morrison said. "Although there will be other such voices in the future, John's voice will be sorely missed."

Former Advertiser staffer Jerry Burris, who succeeded Griffin as editorial page editor, praised Griffin's curiosity for the world around him.

"He tried out things, plunged into everything that happened around town," he said. "If someone was proposing a new way of looking at things, he was the first one to go find out what he could.

"A common theme in his writings was generational change and trying to understand what was happening, changes in society and people," Burris said. "He was always musing about that. What was this generation like and how would they be different than the last one? It was an ongoing question in his mind."

Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: December, 2007; Staff; Obituaries; Journalism; Hawaii

When this story was posted in December 2007, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers RSS Feed
Dodd vows to filibuster Surveillance Act Date: October 27 2007 No: 1206 Dodd vows to filibuster Surveillance Act
Senator Chris Dodd vowed to filibuster the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that helped this administration violate the civil liberties of Americans. "It is time to say: No more. No more trampling on our Constitution. No more excusing those who violate the rule of law. These are fundamental, basic, eternal principles. They have been around, some of them, for as long as the Magna Carta. They are enduring. What they are not is temporary. And what we do not do in a time where our country is at risk is abandon them."

Peace Corps News Peace Corps Library Peace corps History RPCV Directory Sign Up

November 12, 2007: This Month's Top Stories Date: November 12 2007 No: 1210 November 12, 2007: This Month's Top Stories
Chris Dodd's service began with Peace Corps 9 Nov
Matthew McCue called back to Iraq from Peace Corps 9 Nov
Tschetter Visits Turkmenistan 9 Nov
Lara Weber writes: Oprah Winfrey's stumble 9 Nov
Heather Thompson works with P Diddy 7 Nov
Karen Hughes' public diplomacy came to nothing 4 Nov
James Rupert writes: Musharraf seizes power 3 Nov
Martin Puryear is Man of Mysteries 2 Nov
Sarah Chayes says Taliban score major victory 1 Nov
John Sullivan runs Sudan Divestment Task Force. 30 Oct
Tom Bissell writes: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro 28 Oct
Chris Shays to seek 12th term 25 Oct
Helen Dudley can't stop giving 25 Oct
Joseph Acaba named to STS-119 Shuttle Crew 22 Oct
Vince Floriani in USA Today's All-USA Teacher Team 22 Oct
Kelly J. Morris writes "The Bight of Benin" 20 Oct
Charles Shelan was Buddhist monk Wondam’s teacher 19 Oct
Peace Corps returning to Liberia 18 Oct
David Peckham started Village Bicycle Project 16 Oct
Alberto Ibarguen announces grant for "Project Impunity" 15 Oct
Campbell Memorial Park boosts ecotourism 15 Oct
Bowers Family keep daughter's dream alive 15 Oct

What is the greatest threat facing us now?  Date: September 12 2007 No: 1195 What is the greatest threat facing us now?
"People will say it's terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing? I would approach this differently, in almost Marshall-like terms. What are the great opportunities out there - ones that we can take advantage of?" Read more.

Senator Dodd's Peace Corps Hearings Date: July 25 2007 No: 1178 Senator Dodd's Peace Corps Hearings
Read PCOL's executive summary of Senator Chris Dodd's hearings on July 25 on the Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act and why Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter does not believe the bill would contribute to an improved Peace Corps while four other RPCV witnesses do. Highlights of the hearings included Dodd's questioning of Tschetter on political meetings at Peace Corps Headquarters and the Inspector General's testimony on the re-opening of the Walter Poirier III investigation.

Paul Theroux: Peace Corps Writer Date: August 15 2007 No: 1185 Paul Theroux: Peace Corps Writer
Paul Theroux began by writing about the life he knew in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His first first three novels are set in Africa and two of his later novels recast his Peace Corps tour as fiction. Read about how Theroux involved himself with rebel politicians, was expelled from Malawi, and how the Peace Corps tried to ruin him financially in John Coyne's analysis and appreciation of one of the greatest American writers of his generation (who also happens to be an RPCV).

Ambassador revokes clearance for PC Director Date: June 27 2007 No: 1166 Ambassador revokes clearance for PC Director
A post made on PCOL from volunteers in Tanzania alleges that Ambassador Retzer has acted improperly in revoking the country clearance of Country Director Christine Djondo. A statement from Peace Corps' Press Office says that the Peace Corps strongly disagrees with the ambassador’s decision. On June 8 the White House announced that Retzer is being replaced as Ambassador. Latest: Senator Dodd has placed a hold on Mark Green's nomination to be Ambassador to Tanzania.

Suspect confesses in murder of PCV Date: April 27 2007 No: 1109 Suspect confesses in murder of PCV
Search parties in the Philippines discovered the body of Peace Corps Volunteer Julia Campbell near Barangay Batad, Banaue town on April 17. Director Tschetter expressed his sorrow at learning the news. “Julia was a proud member of the Peace Corps family, and she contributed greatly to the lives of Filipino citizens in Donsol, Sorsogon, where she served,” he said. Latest: Suspect Juan Duntugan admits to killing Campbell. Leave your thoughts and condolences .

He served with honor Date: September 12 2006 No: 983 He served with honor
One year ago, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul (RPCV Kenya) carried on an ongoing dialog on this website on the military and the peace corps and his role as a member of a Civil Affairs Team in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have just received a report that Sargeant Paul has been killed by a car bomb in Kabul. Words cannot express our feeling of loss for this tremendous injury to the entire RPCV community. Most of us didn't know him personally but we knew him from his words. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He was one of ours and he served with honor.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Honolulu Advertiser

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Staff; Obituaries; Journalism


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.