Edward Griffith

[ Age 84 ] Graduate of Princeton University was active in local politics and refereed college and high school games

December 01, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Edward Alexander Griffith III, a retired commercial real estate broker and appraiser who was active in Baltimore County politics and earned decorations as a World War II bombardier, died of sepsis Monday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Ruxton resident was 84.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Roland Park, he was a 1942 graduate of Boys' Latin School.

He joined the Army's Air Corps and became a bombardier on B-24 Liberators. He flew 52 combat missions, including the celebrated raids on the Ploesti oilfields in Romania. He was twice aboard planes shot down by the enemy, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for providing medical care and saving the life of a wounded gunner.

When his plane was downed over Yugoslavia, he escaped with the help of anti-Nazi partisans. Wounded on a bombing run over Graz, Austria, in January 1945, he parachuted from his plane only to be captured and sent to the Nazis' Moosburg prison camp. As Russian forces advanced from the east, he and other airmen were forced to march to another camp in adverse weather.

He also received the Air Medal with three bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, a Purple Heart and a Presidential Unit Citation.

After earning a bachelor's degree in history at Princeton University on the GI Bill, he enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, served with the Strategic Air Command in Okinawa and attained the rank of captain.

He became a salesman with United Clay and Supply and later owned Edward A. Griffith Real Estate. He was a developer of Towson's Investment Building and the Ridgely Condominium Tower in the 1970s.

In 1969, then-Baltimore County Executive Dale Anderson named Mr. Griffith to the county Planning Board, where he became vice chairman. He served on the County Landmarks Preservation Commission from 1974 to 1978. He had also chaired the old Friendship Airport Zoning Appeals Board and served on the Board of Visitors of what is now Towson University.

After serving as chairman of the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee from 1974 to 1978, Mr. Griffith entered a crowded race for county executive.

He campaigned saying, "I'm a businessman. I'm not a lawyer. I know what it's like to meet a payroll. There's been many a week when I paid out more than I took in."

He garnered 5,337 votes, placing sixth in the primary won by Donald P. Hutchinson.

He was a referee at college and high school lacrosse and football games for 20 years, and officiated at an Army-Navy football game.

"One thing that refereeing taught me is I can make the best decision, based on rules, and 50 percent of the people in the stands think I'm a bum," he told The Evening Sun in 1979.

A memorial service will be held at noon tomorrow at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 1401 Carrollton Ave., in Ruxton.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, the former Carolyn Joyce Tomlin; two sons, Edward Alexander Griffith IV of Dana Point, Calif., and William Tomlin Griffith of LaJolla, Calif.; two daughters, Louisa Griffith Aston and Jean Griffith Hopkins, both of Baltimore; a sister, Mai Dick West of Towson; and six grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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