By MARTIN E. PARKER | Special to the Democrat
ROUND ROCK – Ninety years old, and April 1, 2013, was the first day of Dr. Joe Ray Griffin’s retirement.
We call him Brother Joe, for that is what he is to us, a brother in Christ. We have known Brother Joe and his wife, Hazel Dean, for many years.
It was our privilege and delight to sit down with this couple and recall the last 71 years of their service to God, country and mankind. I, Martin E. Parker and my wife, Francinn, sat down to discuss their experiences over the past 90 years. It is now our great joy to let the world know the complete dedication this couple has displayed under sometimes harsh – yet, rewarding – conditions.
For the past seven years we have tried to get them to tell their story. Understanding that they are people of humility, Francinn and I decided to “pester” them until we were finally able to spend three hours visiting with them at their kitchen table. The result of that visit must be put in print so others will know … “The Rest of the Story”!
Joe R. Griffin was born Dec. 20, 1922, in Hooks, Texas. Hazel Dean (Lester) Griffin was born Dec. 17, 1923, in Comanche, Texas. Joe was the son of a successful farmer who became a carpenter to help build oil field buildings at Ranger, Texas, during the 1920’s oil boom.
In 1928 his family moved to Brownwood, Texas, and then to Austin in 1931, during the Great Depression. Joe’s father was a contractor in Austin.
Joe attended Austin public schools – Baker Elementary, University Junior High and Austin High School.
Draft notice arrives
In the fall of 1941 Joe entered the University of Texas in Austin. He transferred to Baylor University in September 1942. In December of that same year Joe received an invitation to serve his country by means of a draft notice. He, along with some 18 million boys and girls, served Uncle Sam over the next four years. Joe told me that he found out that Pearl Harbor was NOT a lady. Like the rest of us, we soon discovered Pearl Harbor was a military base and port for the U.S. Navy.