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Philosophy teacher, former legislator

Longtime Oak Park resident Redd Griffdied this week his family said. Griffhad been soldier state legislator journalist teacher. | Bill

Longtime Oak Park resident Redd Griffin died this week, his family said. Griffin had been a soldier, state legislator, journalist and teacher. | Bill Dwyer~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 24, 2012 7:18AM

Longtime Oak Park resident and civic volunteer Redd Griffin died Nov. 20 at Oak Park Hospital, his family said last week. He was 73.

Mr. Griffin wore many hats in his lifetime: teacher, soldier, state legislator, journalist, historian and patriot.

In a May 2012 interview with the Oak Leaves, he said his most important role was as a student — of history and of his own life. The Triton College philosophy teacher said he sought answers more than conclusions; that for him, the past is prologue.

“The past is very relevant to the present,” Griffin said. “I want to keep the continuity with the past alive.”

Mr. Griffin, who served in Germany as a soldier, was an ardent patriot and a fixture at annual wreath-laying ceremonies at the Peace Triumphant monument in Scoville Park.

In May, he was honored as one of “60 Over 60” area seniors who contribute to the area’s civic life. The group was feted on May 10 at the 19th Century Charitable Association for their continuing involvement in their communities.

Mr. Griffin said at the time that he saw no reason people of all ages can’t give of themselves in some useful manner.

“The old saying is charity is about time, talent and treasure,” he said. “If people don’t have treasure, they can give of their time and talent.”

Mr. Griffin saw the aging process in that same positive light. As he grew older, life got better for him, he said.

“I feel more involved, better prepared, more optimistic than I’ve ever felt in my life,” he said.

Mr. Griffin, who was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago, valued listening. He was a political conservative, but he prided himself on having strong values and respect for opposing views, and he steadfastly refused to close the door on new ideas.

“I’m conservative and Catholic, but not in a way you’d imagine,” he said. “I’m not a knee-jerk anything.”

Mr. Griffin also served one term as a state representative in the 1980s.

He was a founding member of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park and served as its president in the mid-80s.

John W. Berry, chairman of the foundation, said Mr. Griffin was the “intellectual content anchor” of the foundation, a person with “big, interesting ideas.”

Survivors include his wife, Mary Jo; sons Daniel and Timothy; brother Michael Griffin; sister Marnie Fretty, and two grandchildren.

Services have been held.

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