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Of Character: The people within the numbers are important to Oklahoma City's Gloria Griffin

Gloria Griffin

Provided Photo
Gloria Griffin PROVIDED - Provided Photo

There’s a lot of life within the numbers.

Gloria Griffin was an educator in public schools for 41 years.

Within that career, she served as superintendent of Millwood Public Schools for 18 years and eight months before retiring June 30, 2013.

But there’s another important number.

“In planning my post retirement years I made a commitment to do three things,” said Griffin, 68, of Oklahoma City. “First, fulfill a promise to my late father-in-law and edit/publish his manuscript I titled Enduring Years: A Migrant Cotton Picker’s Memoir. Second, stay engaged in my community, and third, enjoy this special time in my life.

“The first two items contribute a lot to making commitment three a reality.”

And, in terms of community service, there’s another group of three that has been and continues to be significant in Griffin’s life.

“Throughout the years I chose to volunteer with organizations or groups whose works would be beneficial to all concerned,” she said. “I approach my volunteer work knowing that to whomsoever much is given, of him much will be required.

“In the early years of volunteering as a member of the former Eastside YMCA Board and later the Metropolitan YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City Board of Directors, I heard frequent references to giving one’s time, talent and treasures.

“I have come to realize that of the three, time is the most valuable. Those who influenced me during my early years gave a lot of their time to me. Secondly, they used their knowledge and experience to provide guidance counseling or to open doors for me. That was one of their talents. As a volunteer member on numerous boards there is a great demand for time as well as ideas and problem solving skills.”

Griffin has volunteered with several organizations and community groups in capacities through the years. Some of her volunteer efforts include: Oklahoma City Chapter of the Links, Incorporated; Gamma Epsilon Chapter of National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc.; Oklahoma Sooner City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Leadership Oklahoma City; Patrick Riley Griffin Memorial Scholarship; BLAC, Inc.; YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City; Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum; St. Anthony Hospital; Oklahoma County Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition; Ntu Art Association of Oklahoma, Inc.; MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board; North Oklahoma City Rotary Club; Britton Elementary School; Frederick A. Douglass Mid-High School and Fifth Street Missionary Baptist Church.

One aspect of her life that Griffin can’t offer a single number for are those who have influenced her as an educator and as a volunteer.

“I stand on the shoulders of so many giants, unsung heroes,” she said.

While still a student, Griffin’s principal and teacher, W.C. Davis, encouraged her and believed in her potential.

“He was that community leader whom the powers that be contacted for references and advice,” she said.

Also during her childhood, Griffin grew up observing her aunt Hattie, who provided cooked meals and clothing to the less fortunate.

“Mrs. Weldon Farris was a friend of Aunt Hattie,” Griffin said. “They lived on different sides of town. And for whatever reason she took me under her wings when I was a child. She was a role model from afar as I observed her work throughout the larger community. She attended my wedding and was included in the family photos. It was not until I became older that I gained a greater appreciation of the importance of that type of engagement within the total community. She had a sincere appreciation for people regardless of race.”

Although they are people and not just numbers, in many ways, these individuals add up to who Griffin is today.

“I recognize that much of what I have been able to accomplish is due to these individuals,” she said. “I am appreciative, grateful.

“The persons I have mentioned and so many, many more made a difference in my life. I believe God placed them in my life for a purpose.”

I stand on the shoulders of so many giants, unsung heroes.”

Gloria Griffin,

Bryan Painter

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