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Beloved Catawba College History Professor Dies

February 13, 2008

Category: Academics, Alumni, Faculty, Politics

Dr. Bruce F. GriffithDr. Bruce Griffith, a beloved and longtime Catawba College History Professor, died Tuesday, February 12, at his home.

A 1962 alumnus of Catawba, Dr. Griffith joined the faculty at his alma mater in 1964 after earning both his master of arts and doctor of philosophy degrees from UNC Chapel Hill. At the time of his death, he shared the distinction of being senior faculty member at the college with his colleague, Dr. Patricia Whitley; both had served the institution for 44 years.

The visitation with the Dr. Griffith's family was Friday, February 15 at Summersett Funeral Home. A memorial service to honor his life was held at Catawba's Omwake-Dearborn Chapel on Saturday, February 16.

In recognition of over 40 years of service to his alma mater, an endowment in Dr. Griffith's name was established in 2007 by Catawba alumni, his fellow classmates, and friends. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Bruce Griffith Library Endowment Fund at Catawba College, Office of Development, 2300 W. Innes Street, Salisbury, NC 28144.

Dr. Bruce GriffithDr. Griffith received many accolades during his tenure at Catawba. In recent weeks, Catawba's Faculty Senate had voted unanimously to honor him as the 2008 recipient of the Trustee Award for Outstanding Service to the College. He was honored with the Swink Award for Outstanding Teaching from the institution in 1976 and was the recipient of the William R. Weaver Professorship of Humanities in 1994 and 1995.   He chaired the history department for a number of years. Working with fellow faculty members, Drs. Janice Fuller and Lou Kasias, he was instrumental in designing the college's Freshman Program which he also chaired. He had served as chair of Catawba's Interdisciplinary Symposia. In 1996, the Sayakini, Catawba's yearbook, was dedicated to him by the students.

Often described by friends and colleagues as a Renaissance man due to his wide range of talents and interests, Dr. Griffith was a talented potter and painter, an accomplished cook, an enthusiastic gardener, an avid soccer fan and a consummate scholar. As a scholar, his academic specialties were European history 1750-1850 and mid-19th century Italian history. Dr. Griffith's doctoral dissertation was on nationalism, particularism, and liberalism in Tuscany, 1846-48.

Born February 7, 1941 in West Haven, Connecticut, he graduated from West Haven High School in 1958 before entering Catawba College as a freshman.

Dr. Bruce GriffithHe is survived by wife Nancy T. "Fle" Griffith and sons Daniel, Douglas, David and Drew.

Editor's Note:   As a tribute to Dr. Griffith and to keep his thoughts and spirit with us, three separate articles are available below for perusal along with a photo montage of him during his years at Catawba.

One article is a reprint of story entitled, "Lessons, Native Flowers Abound in Bruce Griffith's Garden," written by Ms. Juanita Bouser (now Teschner) on April 12, 1991, about Dr. Griffith penchant for gardening. The other two articles are first-person pieces written by Dr. Griffith.


VideoPhoto Montage

PhotoSketches by Dr. Griffith