Billy Joe Griffin
February 2, 1932 ~ February 5, 2020
Our beloved husband and father, Billy Joe Griffin, passed away peacefully at his home in Buhl, Idaho the evening of February 5, 2020. Joe was born in the small rural town of Bruce, Mississippi on February 2, 1932 to Cyrus Griffin and Kitty Rogenia (Jean) Bennett. At age 5, he moved to San Antonio, Texas with his mother, but when he was 7 years old she put him on a train back to Bruce where he then lived with his mother’s sister, Aunt Jim and cousin, Betty Sue, until adulthood.
During his years in Bruce he was also raised by his grandparents, Benjamin Franklin Bennett and Georgia Bennett, and he spent many happy hours playing on the vast Bennett farm with his own mule, horse and bull for playmates. Joe loved his grandparents and their kind nurturing helped him grow into the kind, considerate, courteous and honorable man he became. His mother’s other sister, Aunt Edgar, and her husband, Ford Harrelson, also helped raise and guide Joe in his youth. He was injured in a serious car accident as a teen, spending one year in a coma at the Mayo clinic in Memphis with Uncle Ford picking up the tab for the medical bills, and it was Uncle Ford who recognized Joe’s great intellect and encouraged him to pursue mechanical engineering in college.
At age 17, Joe enlisted in the Army and served in the infantry as a sharpshooter, deploying to Korea (1952-53) and serving honorably in several major battles. In 1954 he met Betty Harrington from Houston, Miss. and they married July 17, 1954. Betty and Joe moved to Starkville where he completed his engineering degree at Mississippi State, and during this time they had two beautiful daughters, Patreece and Terri.
In 1960, Joe began his great adventure moving his young family to Cocoa Beach, Florida where he worked as one of the pioneering engineers developing our nation’s historic space program, working for General Dynamics/Convair. He and Betty rubbed shoulders with the original astronauts such as John Glenn, Scott Carpenter and Gus Grissom. In 1969, Joe moved to San Diego continuing his amazing career working in aircraft tool design. Upon retirement, Joe and Betty moved to Buhl, Idaho in 2010.
Joe grew up in the slow-paced relaxed rhythm of the south with an undercurrent of formality shaping his daily life. Good manners, courtesy and politeness were emphasized…..dressing properly for church, saying “yes ma’am” and “no sir”, please and thank you. He was a great example to us all. He epitomized honor, integrity, solid moral character, patience, chivalry and mental strength. His great love for animals and children continued throughout his life. He was an elegant man, but very humble and always reliable…..true-blue and a true “southern gentleman”.
BJ is survived by his wife, Betty and two daughters, Patreece and Terri, along with nine grandchildren and nineteen great-grandchildren.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Billy's memorial webpage at www.farmerfuneralchapel.com