Paul Harrison Griffin

October 27, 1929 - November 9, 2017


Paul H. Griffin, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend and longtime educator, passed away November 9, 2017 in Norwalk, CA.  Paul and his wife, Betty, were married for 65 years and were residents of Downey for 61 years.

Paul was born to Lena and Sterling “Harry” Griffin in El Dorado Springs, MO, on October 27, 1929; Paul was their only child. He spent his young childhood a short distance away in Tiffin, MO, where his mother owned a general store.  Paul and his parents drove to California via Route 66 seeking a better life and education opportunities (this was during the Great Depression).  Paul celebrated his 7th birthday sleeping in the family car on the side of Route 66.  They arrived and settled in Maywood, CA on October 31, 1936 where Paul’s parents bought a home built by his uncle.  Paul’s family moved to Downey in 1949 where they built a new home on a commercial half acre (with orange trees)!

Paul attended South Gate Jr. High and subsequently attended and graduated from South Gate High School in 1947. Paul excelled in sports in high school, participating in tennis, basketball, and track (high hurdles); he received letters in all three sports.  

Paul graduated from Pepperdine College in 1951 with a B.A. in History.  In 1952, Paul earned a M.A. degree in social science from Long Beach State College.

On August 23rd, 1952, Paul married his high school sweetheart, Betty Joyce Braaten.  Two months later, Paul was drafted into the U.S. Army.  At the time, he was teaching at a Junior high school in Compton.  Paul went through basic training at Fort Ord, CA, and served from 1953-1954 in Taegu, South Korea as a military policeman.

Upon leaving the Army in 1954, Paul enrolled in the University of Southern California, and in 1955, he was hired as a teacher at South Gate Jr. High School (where he had been a student from 1941-1944)!

In 1956, Paul and Betty purchased their first (and only) home in Downey, CA. Paul and Betty raised three boys there:  Paul and Betty’s first child, Mark Sterling, was born in 1957.  Paul continued teaching social studies and English at South Gate Junior High School.  In 1959, Paul and Betty’s second son, Gregory Neil, was born.  Their third son, Jeffrey Paul, was born in 1963. All three sons were born at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, CA. All three sons Graduated from Warren High School in Downey and all three became law enforcement officers. Greg and Jeff retired from the Downey Police Department and Mark retired from El Paso County Sheriff’s Department in Colorado.

In 1967, Paul earned a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California as well as secondary administrative credential.  

Paul retired in December of 1988 from the Los Angeles Unified School District after 34 years.  Paul had spent the last 23 ½ years at Huntington Park High School.  

During the years his sons were growing up, Paul and Betty spent much of their time enjoying such activities as DJAA sports (where Paul coached many seasons), Cub Scouts, school projects, birthday parties, etc.

Upon Betty’s retirement in 1992 from the 3M Company (after 27 + years), Paul and Betty enjoyed traveling.  Their travels took them to Hawaii, Washington, DC (Smithsonian), New Orleans, New England, Colorado, Missouri, New York, the Caribbean, North Carolina, Virginia, etc.

Paul was an excellent amateur photographer. He enjoyed taking photographs of everything related to family, friends, vacations, gatherings, sports, etc.  

His greatest joy was spending time with his family.  He will be greatly missed for his consistent love and support he gave to his family and friends.  He will be remembered as a man who lived life his way with good character, strong principles, values, compassion, and charity.  

Paul is survived by his wife, Betty; three children, Mark (Cheryl), Greg (India) and Jeff(Cyndi); five grandchildren, Courtney(Tyler), Christopher(Jessica), Wyatt, Sierra, and Dylan; three great-grandchildren, Noelle, Cash, Daisy, and Holliday (who is on the way).

Services were held Thursday, November 16, 2017 at Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary, 3888 Workman Mill Rd, Whittier, CA 90601.  Please sign Paul’s guest book at