Obituary: Oscar Marvin Griffith

Oscar Marvin "Buster” Griffith died on Sunday, January 16, 2022, in Bradenton, Florida at the age of 98.

His wife Eileen, the love of his life, was at his side in the home where they had lived for almost 60 years.

Buster was born on March 17, 1923, in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Jesse Marvin Griffith and Ruth Metzker Griffith.

Buster was raised in Florida, the family moving from Pennsylvania to Hollywood in 1926, then to Lake Wales in 1928. Jesse Griffith and family came to Bradenton in 1938, when he and his partner Conklin Cline established Griffith-Cline Funeral Home. Buster assumed management of the funeral home from his father in 1952 and was president of the company until his death. He was a frequent presence at Griffith-Cline well into his 90s, offering his expertise to clients and colleagues and his comfort to those mourning the loss of loved ones. He had a gentle touch and always had exactly the right words for grieving families.

Buster graduated from Bradenton High School (now Manatee High) in 1942, serving as senior class president. This from his high school senior yearbook photo caption, comments from classmates: "A gridiron star, hailed by all football fans; a friend, tried and true; a man for the ages.” His classmates clearly knew him well. He was a talented athlete, lettering in football and track. He was named captain of the Bradenton High football team and earned a football scholarship to the University of Georgia, which he attended for a year before joining the U.S. Navy. He served his country during World War II from 1943–1946. After his honorable discharge from the Navy, he completed his education at Rollins College and the Eckels College of Mortuary Science in Philadelphia.

Buster married Dorothy Eileen Watts of Columbus, Ohio on March 26, 1949. Theirs was a storybook marriage, lasting just short of 73 years.

During his long life, Buster became well-known and highly respected throughout Bradenton and Manatee County. He was a hard-working, principled, dedicated businessman, generous with his time and financial resources above and beyond his work with Griffith-Cline. He served in many charitable organizations and was a leader in numerous local civic endeavors, including the Chamber of Commerce, Civic Center Authority, American Red Cross, YMCA, United Way, Manatee County Shrine Club for Crippled and Burned Children, and Goodwill Industries. Never expecting recognition or compensation, he devoted countless hours to making Bradenton and Manatee County a better place to live and work.

He was a Lions Club member, serving as treasurer and president. He was a Master of the Braidentown Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. He was a Vice Commander of the American Legion Kirby Stewart Post #24. He served on the Bradenton Country Club Board of Directors and on the boards of several local banks. He loved his church, Christ Episcopal, for which he served on the Vestry and as both Junior and Senior Warden. He gave freely and faithfully of his time and was a fiscal pillar of the church. He was a proud founder and board member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. It is fitting that he died at dawn on the Lord’s Day—the time he would customarily arise to prepare for the early church service.

He was the 2008 Manatee County Distinguished Citizen, awarded by the Manatee River Fair Association. He was the 2015 Outstanding Alumnus of the Manatee High School Alumni Association.

Buster, his life filled with honors and accomplishments, was most proud of his family. He loved his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren with all his heart. And they all loved their Granddaddy. Buster will be dearly missed every day by his family and his multitude of friends, but so will they remember his warmth, vitality, loving spirit, generosity, love for life—and perhaps most of all—his hearty, deep baritone laugh.

He has been preceded in death by his parents Jesse and Ruth Griffith; by his sister Helen Griffith Jordan; and by his brother, Donald Fred Griffith.

He is survived by his beloved wife Eileen Watts Griffith; by sons Kenneth Richard (Catherine) Griffith, of Bradenton, and James Marvin (Kimberly Ann Whitney) Griffith, of San Francisco, California; by daughter Jan Griffith (John) Remington, of Wilmington, North Carolina; by grandchildren Emily Watts Remington (Kristoffer) Murray, of New Orleans, Louisiana; Andrew Lauren (Sandra) Remington, of Birmingham, Alabama; Carolyn Virginia Griffith (Hale) Snyder, of San Antonio, Texas; Robert Hightower (Miranda) Griffith, of Houston, Texas; and Kathleen Whitney Griffith, of Orlando, Florida; and by great-grandchildren Norah Abernethy Murray, Allen Griffith Remington, Barron Hightower Griffith, William Hutchinson Murray, and John Rhys Remington.

The funeral service is at eleven o’clock in the morning on Thursday, January 20, at Christ Episcopal Church, 4030 Manatee Avenue West.