“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and start with the person nearest you.” —Mother Teresa
Theodore “Griff” Griffin is a Port Washington legend. Not so much because of his omnipresence throughout town. Griff, as he was affectionately known, had an easy smile and a kind manner about him. A standard remembrance would not do him justice.
Griff was so much to so many that the toughest question becomes how one could possibly encapsulate such a rich, yet private life and give this honorable man his justice. I can tell you that he was a loyal son who was very dedicated to his mother and cared for her until her death. A loyal brother who beamed when you mentioned his brother Emmett’s name and his legendary Port Washington football career. What he would not mention is his own long and historic record in track & field. He set records in several events and earned a trip to the Empire Games. He would not mention his two tours in Vietnam. These were two incredibly tough tours that returned many brave men battle-scarred for life. He returned instead serene and contrite. The images of war had changed him for certain; in this case, it made a kind man even kinder.
Griff was a proud family man. He lived most of his life in Port Washington and lived in the very house he grew up in. He married Jessie and started a family. Theodore had three children: Theodore Vincent, Cassandra and Shawn. He was also blessed with five grandchildren who he spoiled with trips to Broadway and Cirque de Soleil. He wanted his grandkids to experience the culture and diversity that was New York City and he often made a day of taking them in and showing them off.
You can’t mention Griff without mentioning Ghost Motorcycles, the home of Sal DeFeo and his family. Sal, the silver-haired paragon, could be seen most days with Griff by his side. As a salesman, Griff was the straight man to Sal’s legendary persona. You could almost never disconnect Griff from Ghost. They were one and the same and Griff was as much a part of the DeFeo family as Sal’s own children, nieces and nephews. By Sal’s side for 30 years, Griff learned the business from the best. A savvy and unassuming salesperson, Griff put you at ease with a smile and a handshake. Today, there are thousands of motorcyclists who purchased their first bike from “The Ghost” or Griff.
What wasn’t well known is Griff spent many weekends teaching young motorcyclists to ride and prepare them for their road tests. It wasn’t part of the sale, he just felt he had a responsibility to teach them how to ride safely. He was instrumental in starting the Bicycle Moto X fad. Ghost sponsored a team of riders who represented some of the most diverse backgrounds anywhere. If you could ride, thats all that mattered. Race, religion or socioeconomic class were of little importance. Ghost found a way to get you on a bike. This team, with Griff as a driver and mentor, won a roomful of trophies nationally. He remained with the DeFeo family until death. Now working alongside Augie DeFeo of Competition Glass for 20+ years, Griff was a mechanic and glazier.
A second act if you will, but still an avid motorcycle historian and enthusiast to the very end.
Theodore Griffin passed as he lived. Quietly and with little fuss. He simply parked his work truck and without a sound he went on home. Rest in peace.