Elaine B. Griffin, 78

Elaine Griffin

Elaine Griffin

NAPLES — Elaine Betty Griffin, 78, passed away Friday morning, March 4, 2016 at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Her son and daughter-in-law were by her side as she left this world and entered into eternity.

In recent years, she had been plagued by dementia — and more recently, cancer — both of which she fought courageously right up to the very end.

Elaine was born on Dec. 15, 1937 in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. She spent much of her childhood in Saugerties, N.Y., growing up with her Uncle Bill, Aunt Aida and Aunt Maude. They were times she spoke about fondly. She was raised by her mother Evelyn and stepfather Henry Wiley (having never known her real father). Later in life, she held a special appreciation for her stepfather for how hard he worked, and how good he was to her.

Elaine was a graduate of St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Girls High School in Manhattan, N.Y. In October 2015, she attended her 60th reunion and despite her worsening dementia, enjoyed the fulfillment of that day.

While still very young, she raised her two sons, John and Matthew by herself, often working nights and weekends to survive. In her thirties, she worked in advertising at BBDO on Madison Avenue, while also attending night school at Queens College. She was driven to better herself, not only for her sake, but also for the sake of her two young sons. Elaine had stacks of books on politics, history, presidents and great women in history. She always championed helping the under privileged, and believed that we all need to help each other in this life and this world. Her son, Matthew, recalls that while living in a small one-bedroom basement apartment, Elaine helped a work associate, who was struggling to raise three kids alone and was faced with eviction. She welcomed them into her home — a small, hot, basement apartment. They remained there through the hot summer of 1968 until the end of that year when they found a place to live. That was Elaine!

In 1977, at the age of 40, Elaine moved to Portland, and started an advertising agency, Griffin Associates. She also worked at L.L. Bean and AAA, retiring in 2001 from the Portland call center.

In her later years, she moved to Naples to be closer to her son Matt and his wife, Tricia. While living in Naples, she formed the Lake Region Writer’s Group, which met monthly at the Casco Public Library. Elaine was an accomplished writer, having completed a book called BitterSweets. It captured the story of her friendship with a couple she had known in advertising. Remarkably, she did this as her dementia was worsening.

Elaine was a beautiful woman in every possible way — physically, intellectually, and spiritually. She was a devoted mother and friend. She also had a wonderful sense of humor. Her loss is so profound, but her life leaves a legacy of many examples from which to draw upon even as we struggle to go on without her.

She was predeceased by her parents, Henry and Evelyn Wiley; her former husband, John Griffin; and her eldest son, John Griffin.

She leaves behind her youngest son, Matthew Griffin of Naples; brother, Phil Wiley of South Carolina; sister, Donna Zyrski of Long Island, N.Y.; two granddaughters and two great-grandchildren.

Visiting hours were held on Wednesday, March 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hall Funeral Home, 165 Quaker Ridge Road, Casco, Maine. The funeral service will take place Thursday, March 10 at 11 a.m.

In Elaine’s memory, please donate to any organizations that cares through understanding (and without discrimination): Preble Street Resource Center, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or the Westbrook Animal Refuge League. If you can’t donate money, then donate yourself to helping people who need help. The world is less one of those today, but perhaps we can fill this huge void left by Elaine’s passing. Have a toast with a glass of red wine (Elaine’s favorite) to one helluva woman!

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