John Griffith

John Griffith

Monday, November 3rd, 1924 - Saturday, July 11th, 2020
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Mr. John Lowell Griffith, 95, of Jefferson City, MO, passed away peacefully Saturday, July 11, 2020 at Heisinger Bluffs. John was born on November 3, 1924 in Jefferson City, the son of Harry Earl and Mary Belle Jones Griffith. He was married on August 15, 1948 in Jefferson City to Margaret Eleanor English.

John grew up in Jefferson City and graduated Jefferson City High School in 1942. He attended Southeast Missouri State University for a semester before he turned 18 and could enlist in the U.S. Navy. After the war, he followed his former SEMO football coach to Iowa State University where he quarterbacked the football team and received a Bachelor of Science degree. Later he earned an M.S. from Washington University.

John served in the U.S. Navy as a Seaman, 1st Class, in the Pacific theater during World War II. After the service, he met and married Margaret, started a family and began his 30-year teaching career in St. Joseph, Missouri. He returned to his home in Jefferson City as teacher and head coach of the football and track teams from 1950-1958. John was immensely proud of every player on his teams and over the years told and re-told innumerable stories of those early years, the teams’ winning traditions including the 1957-58, 9-0 record, the beginning of Jefferson City’s many years of undefeated seasons. He was also proud of the Jays Booster Club, built during that time by an active and appreciative community.

In 1958, he moved his family to Clayton, MO, where he continued to enjoy a successful teaching and coaching career. Again, he enjoyed enthusiastic community support and great athletes. John and Margaret were also active members of Webster Groves Christian Church where he was a Deacon. He retired from teaching in 1980.

That was the beginning of the rest of an active life which he began by literally building a house on the Indian Creek branch of Lake of the Ozarks. He loved fishing, boating, golfing, and teaching aerobics in Versailles and Eldon which he did for many years. John and Margaret also belonged to many social groups, including a dance club. He was Chief of the Volunteer Fire Department in Golden Beach and along with Margaret helped found Golden Beach Community Church. During the years at the Lake he especially enjoyed time outdoors with friends and grandchildren, hiking, three-wheeling, fishing, tubing, water skiing, and “instructing them” about life and athletics.

In 2004, they moved back to Jefferson City and re-established many ties. They rejoined the First Christian Church and the choir and became active supporters of the Performing Arts Center. John was a member of Capital Region’s Wellness Advisory Board and continued his “activity habit” as a member of The Healthplex. He was also a member of American Legion Post 5 and loved fried chicken dinners there with friends almost every Friday evening.

John will be remembered for his friendliness and always being able to strike up a conversation. It is said that he never walked into a room where he did not already have a friend or leave with a new one.

Survivors include his daughters, Georgia Griffith of Jefferson City MO, Debbie Noland of Warrensburg MO, and Karen Ducharme and husband Dewey of Stow OH; four grandchildren, Quintin Noland and wife Liz of Leawood KS, Erek Noland of Kearney MO, Dustin Ducharme and wife Naomi and David Ducharme and wife Kathryn of Denver CO; seven great-grandchildren, Luke Noland and Grant Noland of Kearney MO, Madeline Noland and Broderick Noland of Leawood KS, Mei Ducharme, Elle Ducharme, and Elin Ducharme of Denver CO; and three nephews, Brad English of Kansas City MO, David English of Palm Springs CA, Randy Griffith of Independence MO, and one niece, Kristan Kennedy of Anderson Island WA.

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, brother, Boyd Griffith, and his sister, Mary Lou Gardiner.

An online memorial service will be held on July 25, 2020 with the Reverend Beau Underwood officiating. Private graveside services with full military honors will be held at Hawthorn Memorial Gardens.

Because the extra precaution with COVID-19 will prevent in-person gathering, friends are invited to the online memorial service at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, July 25, via a free Zoom room. Visit the Zoom website or download the free app to your computer or mobile device. The meeting room can be accessed that morning at or by choosing to “join a meeting” then using the ID 81831315653. You will need to join the “live video” and “internet audio.” This online service will include time for friends to share memories, stories and tributes about John with his family and one another.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the First Christian Church, 327 E. Capitol Avenue, Jefferson City, Missouri 65101

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Freeman Mortuary.
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Service Details

  • Interment

    Hawthorn Memorial Gardens
    4205 Horner Road
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Private family graveside services will be held.
Friends are invited to the online memorial service at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, July 25, via a free Zoom room. Visit the Zoom website or download the free app to your computer or mobile device. The meeting room can be accessed that morning at or by choosing to “join a meeting” then using the ID 81831315653. You will need to join the “live video” and “internet audio.” This online service will include time for friends to share memories, stories and tributes about John with his family and one another.


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Joel Case

Posted at 11:48am
My sincere sympathy, In John's memory but for the 'young ones". P.S. Margaret too.

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William L. Stine Posted at 04:14pm

Johnny Griffith was a true Renaissance man. First, in my sophomore year he engineered that magnificent 1956 season and the homecoming victory at old public school stadium. I also remember his return to Jefferson City in 2004-- recalling talking to him at state track meets here and cultural events in churches in JC. But, my favorite remembrance was seeing both he and his wife at the Miller Performing Arts Center starting in 2005. He had championed the renovation that JCHS auditorium -- preserving memories of that same proscenium arch and stage that some of us spoke, sang and danced upon years ago. RIP Johnny.

Alan F Carter

Posted at 12:12pm
Although it’s been over 60 years, I still have vivid and lasting memories of Coach Griffith. A life well lived and certainly a positive influence in my life.
Alan Carter (football 1955 - 58) RIP Coach

Alan Green

Posted at 10:33pm
I've never forgotten his words to me the night of our homecoming game with Columbia in 1956. We had a great team and we were undefeated at the time as were the Kewpies. It certainly was going to be the biggest game of the year. I was the starting quarterback as a junior. This was back in the day when the quarterback called the plays, lots of pressure. I went into his office that was just off the locker room and told him how nervous I was. He sat back with his feet on his desk and calmly said, "if you think you're nervous, how do you think the Kewpies are feeling?" I left his office with all the pressure gone. We whipped Columbia that night and went on to an undefeated season and crowned state champions. Coach Griffith has been my hero ever since. RIP
Alan Green 1955-1958

Georgia Griffith Posted at 08:26pm

I've heard such great stories about that team - thanks for hearing about the "coach" side of the equation.

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