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Griffin made lasting impact on community

By Joshua Frye

The entire community is still mourning the loss of one of Brewton’s most influential community members.
Mr. Billy Joe Griffin, passed away last week at the age of 87.
Griffin resided at his home located on Juniper Creek Drive in Brewton.
Griffin, was a native of Fort Payne and a former resident of Bay Minette.
Griffin was a 1949 graduate of Baldwin County High School and was inducted into the schools’ Athletic Hall of Fame.
Upon graduation, he served with the United States Army in the Alabama Reserves and the Alabama National Guard and retired as a colonel.
He was recognized for his service with a Meritorious Service Medal.
Griffin, was working with the Bay Minette hospital in 1962, when he accepted the position as hospital administrator for D.W. McMillian Hospital in Brewton.
“Dad was a bowler when he came to Brewton and then switched to golf. He loved golf and would ride around on the course right up to his last week,” son of Billy Griffin and current hospital administrator, Chris Griffin said.
At the time that Griffin came to Brewton, there were three area hospitals that he would help administrate.
“He was the administrator of the Healthcare Authority, the governing body of Atmore, Flomaton and Brewton Hospitals. He had multiple roles in helping administrate all three locations,” Griffin said.
Griffin was instrumental in creating and overseeing many projects to help better D.W. McMillian Hospital and other area hospitals.
“It’s hard to find a place to start when discussing the projects that he was instrumental in developing,” friend, former co-worker and hospital pharmacist, Phillip Parker said.
Griffin came here in 1962 when D.W. McMillian was a small single-story hospital.
“He added the upper floor, I.C.U., two or three E.R.’s and he added the ambulance service which was the main thing he helped develop. It’s hard to mention everything that he accomplished,” Parker said.
Up until the 1980s, private ambulance companies would take the emergency runs to D.W. McMillan.
The establishment of a facility ambulance service was a very important and welcome addition to the hospital and it continues until today.
“Mr. Griffin was a great man and a great leader. He was a great administrator. He trusted everyone to do their job and did not micro-manage you. I worked for him for 15 years and never had a crossed word. He was a great person and he is going to be missed. He could talk a cat off a fish wagon. He was a persuasive and fair man. To me he was everything. He gave me a job out of school. I was his assistant administrator. He was my mentor and I’m going to miss him,” Parker said.
Griffin was loved by all employees, friends and community members.
“He was very neat and always clean-cut even at midnight. He would always make himself seen and talk to everyone. He was a fair man and knew everyone by name. He made sure you had the respect that you deserved. He would never make anyone feel small. He had a way with words and let you know when you did something wrong without making you feel bad. He made sure education was offered to us if we wanted the option. His laugh and smile were contagious,” education human resources director for D.W. McMillan Hospital, Autherine Davis said.
Griffin was voted Brewton “Citizen of the Year” in 1978.
He was honored with the Gold Medal of Excellence by the Alabama Hospital Administration.
Griffin also served on the board for the Brewton City School System for a number of years.
He was a long-time member of the Brewton Rotary Club, a Paul Harris Fellow, served on the Board of Trustees of Southern Normal High School, member of First Baptist Church, Baptist Healthcare Board and was a board member of Trustmark Bank.
Griffin retired from his role as hospital administrator in the early 1990s.
“It was honor to know and work with him. He did not just talk it, he lived it. He was my mentor. I am blessed to have known him and he will be greatly missed. He was an awesome man,” Davis said.