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My boss, then my friend

A tribute to the life of Samuel “Sam” M. Griffin, Jr.
February 12, 1936 – April 27, 2015

To laugh often and much
By Ralph Waldo Emerson

To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of the intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better
and to know that one life has breathed easier
because you lived here.
This is to have succeeded.

Monday, April 27th, the Georgia newspaper family lost a legend and the people of Bainbridge, Southwest Georgia  – and anyone, anywhere that knew him  – lost a friend. The passing of Sam M. Griffin, Jr., former owner, publisher and editor of the The Post-Searchlight in Bainbridge was marked with a moment of silence by the staff here at the Donalsonville News.
Sam was my first boss, hiring me fresh out of Journalism School at the University of Georgia – and he put up with my growing pains as a journalist for eighteen years. He taught me to write what was right and not to worry if people liked it or not and to toot my own horn because no one else knew me any better than me.
In his storied career as a newspaper journalist he poured his blood, sweat and tears into promoting the life and times of his beloved Southwest Georgia and shared his irreplaceable wit, unique art of story telling and infectious smile and laughter with all that call this place home. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
He is remembered today, as he always will be, as a loving husband and father. He will be remembered as a good friend and a newspaperman who genuinely loved his community and who cherished every opportunity to promote its great quality of life.
His own words – spoken to memorialize the life of his friend and Donalsonville News Publisher Bo McLeod – so accurately describe the person he was.  
Sam was the perfect role model. If one sought the finest, most accurate example of the complete country newspaper editor of fact and fiction, Sam M. Griffin, Jr. would be the obvious choice.  He personified that special combination of enthusiastic community cheerleader and sharp-witted curmudgeon who encouraged the worthy, chastised the errant, ridiculed the pompous, recognized the achievers, dispelled fears, exposed opportunities, noted failures, mirrored history, pointed to the future and tickled the fancy of all; he served as a writer who lived among the people and in the community he loved.  
Sam was truly a legend in his own time; he provided an example – and entertainment – for his peers and a model for upcoming generations who entertained the notion of pursuing a career in the craft.  
He loved his family, his God, his church, his friends, his community, his country, The Post-Searchlight and his profession with all his being, and those of us privileged to call him “Friend” never knew anyone more loyal or supportive. And besides all of that, he was a heck of a lot of fun to be around.
It is traditional to write the number “30” on newspaper copy to signify the end of the story. But that can’t be done with the story of Sam M. Griffin, Jr. His life on this Earth may have ended, but the story of how he lived it will forever remain in the hearts of the people who live in this South Georgia land he so fondly called home.
Rest in peace, Sam.

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