James Michael Griffith (“Jim”) of Sanibel, Florida, passed away on April 26, 2019 in his home. He was 83 years old.
Jim was born in New Britain, Connecticut, on June 2, 1935 and grew up there, graduating from Berlin High School and the University of Connecticut. Jim also completed the Advanced Management Program from Harvard. He met his wife Jacqueline Gay (Smith) Griffith (“Gay”) at UConn, and they were married in 1957. Gay passed away in 2012.
Jim earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1957 and worked at Connecticut Light and Power. He and Gay then moved to Georgia in 1960, where Jim had a long and rich career at Georgia Power Company as a registered Professional Engineer, retiring in 1992 as a Vice President of Legislative Affairs at the company’s Atlanta headquarters. He was Chairman of the Energy Advisory Board to the Southern Governors Council, Chairman of the Public Affairs Board of the National Nuclear Energy Council and President of the Utilities States Government Organization. During his career, Jim also served as a leader for many community and civic organizations, including Life Board Member of the Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges, Board Member of the Greater Atlanta Junior Achievement, President of the Sandy Springs Chapter for the International Rotary Club and Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 415 in Valdosta, Ga. While at Georgia Power Company, he spearheaded a successful effort to re-introduce falcons and other raptors to downtown Atlanta, fostering their nesting in Georgia Power-owned high-rise office buildings. He also volunteered as an Operations Manager for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Jim and Gay became permanent residents of Sanibel, Florida in 1999. For the next 20 years, until the time of his death, Jim was the consummate volunteer, a man of great integrity, energy, ability, and dedication, working to improve Sanibel and protect the ecosystems that are critical to Sanibel’s native wildlife. He was a past President of the Island Water Association and served on its Board of Directors for six years. From 2010 through 2019, he served as President of the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society. From 2013 through 2019, he was President of the International Osprey Foundation. Jim volunteered for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) and was certified as an emergency rescue volunteer for CROW Injured Wildlife Rescue Team. He volunteered at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in multiple roles. He also volunteered at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife and the Bayou Preservation Association. Jim served several years as a volunteer for the Captiva Triathlon, organizing registrations and helping the day of the events.
Jim was an active member and deacon of the Sanibel Congregational Church.
One of Jim’s greatest joys was birdwatching, which he did almost daily. He had a special affection for ospreys, which he dubbed “the diamonds of the islands.” He built well over 100 osprey platforms over the years.
Jim and Gay also enjoyed the tranquility of their house in the North Georgia Mountains on Seed Lake in Rabun County. There, Jim enjoyed hiking, canoeing, kayaking, birdwatching, and hosting family and friends.
Jim was also an avid runner for over 50 years, frequently participating in local 5K and 10K road races. He completed the Peachtree Road Race 10K in Atlanta 35 times since 1975, often running with his children and eventually, even his grandchildren.
The most important priority throughout Jim’s life was his family. He was the loving father of five children: sons Michael Griffith of Sanibel, Brian Griffith of San Diego, California and B. Howard Griffith (deceased); daughters Linda Griffith of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Susan Griffith Berthelot of Atlanta, Georgia. Jim was also very proud of his nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. He is also survived by brothers Robert (Bob) Griffith of Kensington, Connecticut, Thomas (Tom) Griffith of Winston Salem, North Carolina; sisters Margorie (Marge) Johnson of Topsham, Vermont, and Elaine Talbot of Southington, Connecticut. His sister Kathleen Langevin died in 2010.
Jim’s family is planning a memorial service in Georgia this spring and will plan a memorial in Sanibel in the fall. In lieu of flowers or gifts, Jim would have appreciated a donation in his memory to Sanibel-Captiva Audubon or The International Osprey Foundation.