September 26, 1925 ~ July 22, 2015

Born in: Bluefield, WVA,
Resided in: Asheville, NC

Ralph Edwin Griffith, who worked for a President, U.S. senator and a governor after a newspaper career, died Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at his residence in Asheville, NC. When he retired in 1987 he was director of the U.S. Senate Radio/Television Recording Studio, which was located in the basement of the U.S. Capitol. It capped a career that began in his hometown of Bluefield, WV, as a reporter on the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. He also worked on the Bluefield Sunset News and then moved to The Knoxville (TN) Journal, where he remained for 17 years Griffith resigned from The Journal in 1968, while political editor, to become press secretary for former U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker R - TN. He returned to Tennessee in 1971 to be press director and to help manage the successful campaign of former Gov. Winfield Dunn. Dunn became the first Republican governor of that state in 50 years. He served four years in Governor Dunn's cabinet before returning to Washington in 1975 where he was appointed director of congressional/press relations in the Office of Telecommunications Policy, Executive Office of President Ford. In 1977 he was appointed executive director of the National Republican Governors Association and in 1981 was named director of the radio/television studio, which served Republican and Democrat members of the U.S. Senate. He directed the installation of cameras and trained the first operators when that body first provided television signals for broadcast. He installed the first fiber optic cable in Washington to be used for television, which gave senators access to news programs all over the world from the basement of the Senate. He moved to Asheville in 1989. Griffith was a veteran of WWII, serving on the submarine U.S.S. Piranha in the Pacific Theater of Operations. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Gail Henderson Griffith; sons, Alan Griffith, of Rockford, IL, and Ed Griffith, of Knoxville, TN; daughters, Cynthia Griffith, of Demorest, GA, and Mary Sadler (Jeff), of Boulder, CO; step-son, Chip Forward and step-daughter, Diane Davis, both of Baltimore, MD; many grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and sister, JoAnne Styron of Marion, VA. He is preceded in death by a son, Andrew Griffith. Memorials may be made to CarePartners Hospice, P.O. Box 25338, Asheville, NC, 28813; or to the Maine State Troopers Assoc., 28 Meadows Rd., Augusta, ME, 04330. Groce Funeral Home on Tunnel Rd. is assisting the family.

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Guestbook

  1. Gail and Family,
    Just wanted to let you know that you all are in my thoughts and prayers. I worked with Ralph at the Citizen-Times and always thought he was a wonderful person and always so pleasant and easy to talk with.

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  2. Gail & Family, please accept my condolences. Ralph was an exceptional person and a newspaper professional of the highest standards. Everyone at the Citizen-Times enjoyed working beside him and hearing his stories of a life well-played. It certainly was my good fortune to have known and worked with him, however briefly. Kindest regards, Larry Pope

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  3. Although I didn’t know Mr. Griffith, I know and love his daughter Mary. Condolences to the family – my thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    With love, Lee Ann Photoglo

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  4. As Chaplain of U.S. Submarine Veterans of North Carolina, I take this means to extend condolences to Ralph’s Family. Be assured, his oar is at rest. Chaplain Bill (Tarheel Base, USSVI).

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  5. Gail, as a young college student many years ago I worked part-time at the Knoxville Journal(thanks to Russ, my brother) and there I met some great characters, among them Griff. He was a favorite of a young man. …..great sense of humor, always kind. What memories, Streetcar, Hog, Ben,and more left with me….I think even though I changed professions those men instilled in me the importance of humor in life. The last time I talked to Griff was after my brother died. I only regret is that I never made time to see him when I came to Asheville….RIP

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  6. My dad, Dave, was a former City Editor at the Knoxville Journal. I remember Mr. Griffith from tagging along with my dad in the newsroom. Later I had a chance to meet with him during the Dunn administration. He was a fine man. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  7. Ralph was my first football coach in 1949. He Coached a Pop Warner team called the Sunset News. He came by 3rd street in Bluefield, W.Va. In a Crosley. We were playing street football. He asked if we wanted to join his team. Some of us hopped in the Crosley and joined the team. He was a nice man. We went to Easton, Pa. To the first Piggy Bank Bowl. He lived a good life.
    My condolences to the family.

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