Saturday, November 21, 2015

Barbara Griffin dies in Michigan

Joan Rice, retired BJ Features Dept. editor, passed along the sad news.


Barbara Griffin has passed away. See obit at  

May she rest in peace.


 Barbara Griffin, former BJ Features Department chief, passed away November 2 in Michigan.

I had a long list of Features Editors who technically were my bosses at Ol’ Blue Walls, but Barb was one of the more enjoyable sparring partners.
Not that Doug Oplinger, current BJ managing editor; Mike Needs, current Mr. Ranger, Sir out West; Jim Nolan, who never used vowels in his memos and gave me enough overtime to pay for The Pool That Channels Built; Ann Sheldon Mezger, Roger’s wife; and Colleen Murphy Tigelman, tech chief Bob Tigelman’s wife, didn’t make life interesting for me, too.
PD and former BJ entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak, a craftsman with words if ever there was one, wrote:

“Genuinely caring person, and one of the best surgical editors I've ever encountered, especially with complex long-form stories. She'd mark up a print-out of a story, and every suggestion improved the story.”
Retired BJ reporter and sometimes radio show sub Jim Carney wrote:

“Oh, no. She saved my butt at the paper by taking me into Features. A great editor. I'm so sorry to hear this."

Barb’s obituary and stories about her demise have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oakland (Michigan) Press, the Arizona Daily Star and the Detroit News, among the stops in her newspaper career.

Let’s start with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article that Joan spotted:

Barbara J. Griffin / Longtime journalist described as ‘Renaissance woman’

Oct. 8, 1943 to Nov. 2, 2015

By Madasyn Czebiniak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor, described by one of her bosses as a “Renaissance woman in journalism,” died Monday in Michigan.

Barbara J. Griffin of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., died at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak after going into cardiac arrest, according to her friend and former colleague Charlotte Craig. She was 72 and had been experiencing health problems, Ms. Craig said.

Before she retired in 2001, Ms. Griffin’s journalism career spanned more than three decades at newspapers including The Detroit News, the Arizona Daily Star and the Akron Beacon Journal. In Pittsburgh, she was assistant managing editor for features at the Pittsburgh Press, and assistant managing editor for news at the Post-Gazette.

Ms. Griffin graduated from the University of Michigan in 1965. In 1969, she became a writer for The Detroit News, eventually rising to editor of the Accent section.

“She was able to give good advice and strong guidance without it sounding insulting or condescending,” said Ms. Craig, a former features writer at The Detroit News who worked for Ms. Griffin. “She could understand where her employees were coming from in terms of what they were trying to do, and acknowledge that, and still point out how their work could be better without making them feel small.”

While at the News, Ms. Griffin married reporter Clark Hallas, and they moved around the country, working at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and at separate newspapers in Ohio before coming to the Press in 1987, she in features and he as a reporter. Mr. Hallas died in 1992.

When the Post-Gazette bought the Press in 1993, Ms. Griffin became assistant managing editor for news.

“Barb had amazing range and mastery, combined with great passion for her profession and her city,” said David M. Shribman, who worked with Ms. Griffin during his first years as executive editor of the Post-Gazette.

Madelyn Ross, the former managing editor of both the Press and the Post-Gazette, was the editor who described her as a “Renaissance woman.”

She mastered “all areas of a features department as well as hard news, special projects and our newsroom’s nascent attempt to tease our stories on television,” Ms. Ross said. “The common threads through all of these permutations were journalistic integrity and great, loving humanity.”

In her last assignment at the Post-Gazette, Ms. Griffin was the newspaper’s liaison with TV news partner KDKA.

KDKA news director Anne Linaberger said she met Ms. Griffin in 1998, about the time the newspaper and TV station forged their partnership, which continues.

“As in every new partnership, there was a lot of trust to build, especially between the two newsrooms of competing journalists who didn’t want to share their scoops with someone else. Barb’s guidance in that process helped to form the basis for a partnership between the station and the newspaper that is stronger today than it’s ever been,” Ms. Linaberger said.

“Personally, I appreciated how Barb always spoke her mind, but in a constructive way. I think it came from the fact that as a woman, she had to work her way up through the ranks in a day and time where leaders at newspapers were mostly men. She knew how to pick her battles, assert herself when needed and do it the right way, which is an art.”

Ms. Griffin is survived by stepchildren Kelly and Michael Hallas, both of Lansing, Mich.; a sister, Pamela Mincher of Plymouth, Mich.; and a brother, Tom Griffin, of Lake Orion, Mich.

A memorial service will be held next Wednesday at Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home in Pontiac, Mich. Memorial contributions can be made to the Michigan Humane Society, 30300 Telegraph Road, Suite 220, Bingham Farms, MI 48025-4507.

Then there was the writeup by the Arizona Daily Star:

Barbara Joy Griffin, a former entertainment editor at the Arizona Daily Star, died of cardiac arrest on Nov. 2. She was 72.

Griffin was a resident of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, when she died. Her husband was the late Clark Hallas, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Star in 1981.

Griffin grew up in Pontiac, Michigan, where her family still operates the Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home.

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1965, she taught for two years, then worked two years at the Ypsilanti Press. She landed a job at The Detroit News in 1969 as a writer for the Accent section at a time when it was being transformed from an old-style “women’s section” into a contemporary lifestyle and feature section. She was quickly named assistant features editor and ultimately Accent editor.

While at The News, Griffin married fellow News reporter Clark Hallas. In 1978 the couple joined the Arizona Daily Star, where Griffin worked as entertainment editor and Hallas won the Pulitzer Prize for an investigative series he wrote with colleague Robert Lowe about misuse of funds in the University of Arizona athletics department.

Griffin and Hallas left Tucson in 1983 for Ohio, where Hallas went to work for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Griffin served as features editor for the Akron Beacon Journal. In 1987 they both accepted positions at the Pittsburgh Press — he as a reporter and she as assistant managing editor for features.

Hallas died in 1992. That same year, the Pittsburgh Press ceased publication after a long and bitter strike. The paper was absorbed by the competing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where Griffin became assistant managing editor for news, supervising more than 70 reporters covering regional, state, city and suburban news, as well as specialty writers covering health care and food.

She retired from the Post-Gazette in 2001 and a few years later moved back to her native Michigan.

PauseCurrent TimeDuration TimeRemaining TimeStream TypeLoaded:

“Barb was a Renaissance woman in journalism, mastering all areas of a features department as well as hard news, special projects and our newsroom’s nascent attempt to tease our stories on television,” said Madelyn Ross, retired managing editor of the Post-Gazette and Griffin’s former boss. “The common threads through all of these permutations were journalistic integrity and great, loving, humanity.”

Griffin had suffered a variety of serious health problems in recent years. But she still enjoyed gardening, traveling and listening to country music.

In addition to Hallas, she was preceded in death by her parents and a sister, Christine Bommarito, of Pontiac, Michigan.

She is survived by stepdaughter Kelly Hallas and stepson Michael Hallas, both of Lansing, Michigan; a sister, Pamela Mincher, of Plymouth, Michigan; a brother, Tom Griffin, of Lake Orion, Michigan; brother-in-law Bob Bommarito, of Pontiac; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held Nov. 11 in Pontiac. Memorial donations can be sent to the Michigan Humane Society or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

The Oakland (Michigan) Press came up with this:

Griffin, Barbara J.; of Bloomfield Hills; November 2, 2015; age 72. Barb was the beloved wife of the late Clark Hallas. She is survived by step-children, Kelly and Michael Hallas of Lansing; siblings, Pamela (Michael) Mincher of Plymouth and Tom Griffin of Lake Orion; brother-in-law, Bob Bommarito of Pontiac; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Glenn and Doris Griffin; and sister, Christine Bommarito. Barb grew up in Pontiac where her family still owns and operates Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1965, Barb worked as an Editor for the Ypsilanti Press, Detroit News, Arizona Daily Star, Akron Beacon Journal and Pittsburgh Press before retiring in 2001 from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as the Assistant Managing Editor. Barb enjoyed gardening, traveling, watching Lake Michigan sunsets, listening to country music, watching U of M Football and playing mom to her white West Highland Terrier. Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 1 p.m. at SPARKS-GRIFFIN FUNERAL HOME, Pontiac. The family will receive friends from 11:30 a.m. until the time of service. Memorial donations may be made to the Michigan Humane Society or to a charity of donor’s choice. Reflections may be shared at

Published in The Oakland Press on Nov. 8, 2015

A check of the BJ obituaries failed to turn up anything about Barbara. Too bad. She was one of the good editors.

No comments: