Barbara Griffin, former BJ Features Department chief, passed away November 2 in Michigan.
Barbara J. Griffin / Longtime journalist described as ‘Renaissance woman’
Oct. 8, 1943 to Nov. 2, 2015
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.
“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.