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James M. Griffin
disbursing agent of the Bureau, retired October 31, 1938, upon his own request, after over 42 years of service, having been appointed July 1, 1896, when the Bureau was a branch of the Treasury Department. His father at one time held this same position.

He joined the Bureau staff when William W. Duffield was its head, serving also under Henry S. Pritchett, O. H. Tittmann, E. Lester Jones, R. S. Patton, and the present Director.

Leo Otis Colbert. He spent one season on Coast Pilot field work and was a clerk in the Engraving Division and the Division of Hydrography and Topography before becoming disbursing agent on March 7, 1913, which position he held until his voluntary retirement. As disbursing agent, passing on the accounts of all field parties, he was in direct contact with all the ramifications of the Service and its personnel.

His consistent friendliness and never-failing tact and resourcefulness in handling difficult fiscal problems are matched only by the esteem and affection in which he is held, according to the Director, who presented him, on behalf of the personnel, with a leather-covered hand-tooled brochure, containing the signatures of members of the Washington staff and those on duty throughout the United States and its possessions.

The brochure is illustrated with a series of sketches in water colors, drawn by Bureau artists, depicting amusing incidents that have occurred during his tenure of office. Mr. Griffin was also surprised with a radio which had been installed in his car.

C&GS BULLETIN, 10/31/1938

Once again it becomes our sad duty to report the death of our beloved fellow workers. Last Thursday, Sept. 3, 1942, at Doctors’ Hospital, James Madison Griffin passed to the great beyond and the Coast Survey lost one of its most lovable characters.

“Sunny Jim,” as we of the Buzzard liked to think of and call him, was born in Atlanta, Ga. Before entering the Survey in 1896 as a temporary recorder in the field, he had been employed in commercial fields and railroading.

In 1897 he came to the office in a clerical capacity and in 1913 became Disbursing Agent, Chief of the Division of Accounts, a position which his father before him had held, remaining there until his retirement in 1938 with a service record of 42 years.

During the Spanish-American War he was detailed to the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury, in charge of collecting deferred payments on bonds, and returned to our Office on the completion of his duties at the Treasury.

During his long and faithful service Jim endeared himself to all who came in contact with him by his ever trying to make life brighter and lighter for his fellows.

He will long be remembered as the man who never took off his hat. This custom was the cause of many good-natured jibes which he invariably took in the spirit in which it was given and usually came out best in any discussion about it.

His charities were many and a great many employees have been the recipient of Jim’s help. It is said that he was always looked upon as the Field Officer’s best friend for his unfailing assistances to them with the task, so much disliked by many officers, of their accounts.

His wife survives him and all of his friends extend to her their heartfelt sympathy.

The funeral took place on Saturday, Sept. 5th, from the Gawler Funeral Parlors and interment was in Cedar Hill Cemetery with Masonic honors.

He was a 32nd Degree Mason, a member of the Anchor Club, and the Arlington Wheelmen, Washington’s oldest bicycle club.

In: “The Buzzard,” Vol. IX, No. 37, p. 2. September 10, 1942.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.
Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:27 AM

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