James Gregory Griffin, 68, of Pensacola, Florida passed away on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.
James Gregory Griffin was born Monday, the 16th of March 1953 in Pensacola, Florida to the loving parentage of Deacon Willie James and Thelma (Maye) Griffin. He was reared in the Pensacola (Escambia County, FL) community. In March 1958, at the tender age of 5, he united with the Greater Union Missionary Baptist Church, where Dr. A. J. King, Sr. served as his Pastor. Doing so, he became a fifth generation Missionary Baptist Believer of Jesus Christ. His parents ensured that he and his siblings were raised in the fear of the Lord, had a solid spiritual foundation, and each of them served in a plethora of activities in the church.
James Gregory graduated from William J. Woodham High School with the class of 1971. As an advocate for racial justice and equality, James founded “Black Survivors” in 1970 to support students who faced challenges that resulted from the integration of schools in Escambia County, FL. James was given the name “Black Pride” due to his ability to stand up and speak up for people of color.
James attended Bethune-Cookman College where he completed the requirements for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and a Masters of Business Administration in three years. While attending Bethune-Cookman College, he chose to lend his vocal talent to the BCC Gospel Choir and served as president from 1972-1974. He also shared his theatrical talents and performed several roles in the university’s playwright productions. As a drum major for justice and always aspiring to make a difference in the community, James was initiated as a member of the Delta Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated at BethuneCookman College in 1973.
After graduation, James accepted a position as Controller for Monsanto, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. While living in Chicago, he continued his involvement in community service and was still a voice for the disadvantaged and for people of color. In 1983, James actively campaigned for the political team of Harold Lee Washington who was elected as Chicago’s first African American Mayor. James continued his spiritual journey and united with the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, IL, where the Rev. Dr. Clay Evans served as Pastor. As a faithful servant, James held positions of leadership in the music department, led by Lou Della Evans-Reid, until he relocated back to Pensacola, Florida in 1986. J. Gregory continued as a drum major for justice and organized the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration in Pensacola, FL in 1987. As a civil rights activist, he was always willing to serve his community and exhibited tireless energy in the quest to make the community and the world a better place to live, for all mankind. In 1991,
J. Gregory established and was the founder, owner, and visionary of Bethesda-Clay Galleries. In 2001 he also established and was the founder, principal floral designer, and visionary of Laurels & Bay Leaves where he was the creative designer of beautiful and exquisite floral arrangements. The last event that James organized was held on August 24, 2021, in celebration of the 60th Anniversary of what he chose to entitle “Acknowledging Our Space in Time.” The event celebrated Clarence “Cap” Benboe’s successful interment of the 1st African American, James R. Polkinghorne, Sr. at Holy Cross Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida.
Brother James, has shared his many talents with the City of Pensacola and surrounding areas by performing musical selections that would move an individual to a resounding HALLELUJAH! For several years, he was an active member of the music ministry of Greater Union Missionary Baptist Church’s Male Chorus, Young Adult & Inspirational Choir, Mass Choir, and he rendered solos. He spoke eloquently, with such force and conviction that often aroused a listener to not only pay attention, but to make positive changes in their own life and in the world! Brother James believed and stood on the scripture “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2nd Timothy 2:15). He was a Christian who served diligently in FAITH. He was recognized by the Northwest Florida Laymen’s Association as a student and teacher of the WORD of GOD. He enjoyed dancing and was an active member of the Pensacola Shake it Up Line Dance Group. He continued his humanitarian gift as a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Deep-Water City Lodge, #751. He was a member of the Northwest Florida Florist Association and was proud to share his experiences, as well as teach and encourage novice students in various floral societies of Florida. Wherever there were multiple floral arrangements, those designed by J. Gregory Griffin through Laurels and Bay Leaves, were easily recognized, always had a point of difference and always memorable!
James Gregory Griffin made his mortal transition on Wednesday, the 8th of September 2021.
O, It is Jesus! Victory Assured!
A Public Visitation will be held on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, from 12:00 - 4:00 pm at Christian Family Funeral, 4020 North Davis Hwy., Pensacola, Florida 32503.
Family Hour and Community Tribute Tuesday, September 14, 2021 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at St. John Divine Baptist Church, 620 East Jordan Street, Pensacola, FLorida.
A Funeral Service will be held on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, at 12:00 PM at St. John Divine Baptist CHurcy, 620 East Jordan Street, Pensacola, Florida. Interment will follow service at Maye Cemetery, Butler County, Alabama.