By Ruth Ferguson, NDG Editor
Linda L. Griffin over the years has often encouraged others to give people their flowers while they are here to enjoy them. On Sunday, March 11 the community and those she has served for and with took her advice and celebrated how much she has meant to them.
State Senator Royce West, City of Garland Mayor Rev. Ronald Jones, former Dallas Independent School Board Trustee Ron Price (a graduate of South Garland High School) were among the capacity crowd gathered at St. Mark Baptist Church to celebrate and say a word of thanks to Sis. Griffin.
Along with her husband, the late Reverend Doctor Roosevelt A. Griffin, Sis. Griffin co-founded St. Mark Institutional Baptist Church in Garland. The church began in a storefront on South First Street in April 1976. The inspiration for opening the church was a passion for the children throughout the community, particularly those in East Garland. Together the couple led the congregation for over 33 years, until Dr. Griffin’s passing in September 2009.
For over thirty years, together the couple poured their time and resources into the lives of the children and families of St. Mark, Garland and surrounding community. The continual message from Dr. and Mrs. Griffin was the necessity of developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the importance of education.
Never your typical First Lady inclined to merely sit back and observe, Sis. Griffin has worn many hats – figuratively and literally over the years – at St. Mark. In the early years of the church she was the pianist and for several years the choir director for the adult and youth choirs. She served as Sunday School Superintendent and the teacher for the high school students and young adult classes, as well as, spearheaded the annual Vacation Bible School held in early July. Her positions and activities in St. Mark are too numerous to list. With wit, humor and grace Sis. Griffin has long served the church and remains very active today.
Even those who have known Sis. Griffin for many years had an opportunity to learn more about her far-reaching involvement in the community during the celebration service. Escorted and serenaded by her son, the talented Ruben Lael Griffin, the program featured insight from those she has served with and inspired over the last three decades. The theme of the afternoon was “Faithful to the Heavenly Vision.” A video tribute was a “This is Your Life” look at Sis. Griffin’s life and achievements. It featured photos of her as a young girl, student, corporate executive, bride, and public official.
Sen. West and former Trustee Price discussed her efforts throughout Dallas and the State of Texas to improve public education in her role as a Garland Independent School Board (GISD) Trustee. Despite losing in her first attempt two years earlier, in 1998 Sis. Griffin became the first African American female to serve on the GISD board. Fourteen years later, she is currently the Asst. Secretary, but during her tenure she has also served as the first African American GISD Board President.
City of Garland Mayor Ronald Jones indicated Sis. Griffin was one of his inspirations for seeking public office after retirement as Garland’s Assistant City Manager. Despite being warned his career would die in Garland, which was not well known for embracing diversity at the time, Hon. Jones made the transition anyway. Watching African American women (Sis. Griffin and Mrs. Annie Dickson) take leadership roles in public service, he ran and became the first African American Mayor of Garland, the 10th largest city in Texas.
Mrs. Dickson, the first African American female to serve on the Garland City Council was in the audience. She along with B.J. Williams, Garland NAACP President has served on the Advisory Board of the North Dallas Gazette. Williams is a candidate for Garland City Council, District 4 in the upcoming elections.
Rev. Leonard Leach, longtime Pastor of Mount Hebron Baptist Church inGarlanddelivered a rousing sermon about a New Testament woman – and Sis.Griffin– women who did their best for Christ. Also providing brief remarks of encouragement was St. Mark’s interim Pastor Rev. Dr. George Duncan.
Griffin, born in Lakeland, Florida to Joseph and Helen Reed, Sis. Griffin received her Bachelors from Tennessee State University and her Masters of Business Education/Business Administration from Columbia University in New York. Her career a corporate executive and consultant has taken her throughout the U.S. and Europe over the years. Sis. Griffin is the CEO of LINDCO Management Consulting.