Robert Lee Griffin was born September 3, 1936 in Yazoo City, Mississippi to Mr. Napoleon and Mrs. Florence Griffin.
When he was 21 years old, Robert was searching for a better path in life. It was during a time known as the Great Migration also known as the Great Northward Migration, a movement of 6 million African Americans out of the rural Southern part of the United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West. Like many, Robert was in pursuit of the American Dream, the belief that anyone—regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone and is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work. Robert did just that.
Leaving his parents behind, Robert courageously traveled Northward and found employment at Gately’s People Store located at 11201 S. Michigan, described by many as “the biggest store on Michigan Avenue.” Located in the historic Roseland community on the south side of Chicago, most remember Robert’s long-time employer as being like a Walmart before there ever was a Walmart. For 25 years, Robert developed and took great pride in his culinary skills while working in his position as a cook at Gately’s.
Later, Robert set his sight on higher heights and decided to pursue a new career path in welding. Robert became a skilled welder and started his second career—working for another 25 years at M. A. Hanna Company, the second largest producer of iron ore in the United States.
In 1980, Robert met Sherry, the love of his life. They were united in marriage in 1998 and remained together until his passing. Robert was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and uncle. In his private and leisure time, Robert enjoyed relaxing at home on the couch, drinking his coffee, and watching wrestling, old cowboy movies, and The View with Whoopi Goldberg and the rest of the cast. You could never ask Robert a question without him responding first with this one word, “WELL.” Therefore, whenever he responded to a question--all who knew him—were certain of and familiar with what he would say right away. It was something Robert was known for throughout his entire family. We might have thought it was funny and predictable of him, but we also understood that he was being thoughtful before he spoke. Robert—the husband, the father, the grandfather, the brother, the uncle, the friend, the neighbor will be missed but never forgotten.
In 2000, Robert retired after 60-plus years in the workforce.
In 2019, Robert and his wife left their hometown of Chicago, Illinois and relocated to the Quad-Cities so that their daughter Tracy, a nurse, could better look after Robert’s care and both of her parent’s health needs. Robert got to know his a few of his new neighbors but mostly enjoyed the peace and quiet of his new residence.
Robert departed this life peacefully on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 surrounded by his wife and family.
Robert was preceded in death by his father, Napoleon Griffin and his mother, Florence Griffin; his brothers, Richard Griffin, LG aka “Bo” Griffin, Nick Griffin, Willie Lee Griffin, and Jimmy Lee Griffin; his sisters, Francine Griffin and Catherine Griffin; and a daughter-in-law, Gail Griffin.
Robert leaves to cherish his memory: his wife, Mrs. Sherry Griffin; his five children, son, Rickie Griffin; daughter, Sherry (Calvin) Coleman; son, Jesse Griffin; son, Gregory Speech; daughter, Tracy (Merrell) Mars; one brother, Aaron (May) Griffin; twenty grandchildren; several great-grandchildren; two brothers-in-law; four sisters-in-law; and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.
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