Vernon Douglass “Speed” Griffin, 94, died Monday night, April 4, 2011, in St. Peters, Missouri, from natural causes. His family is comforted knowing his soul and spirit were transferred away from the body and into the presence of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ where he was greeted by his wife of 53 years, Nona Martin Griffin, his father Alexander Griffin, his mother, Mamie Elizabeth (Wood) Griffin, his brother Frederick Dean Griffin, his sister, Clara Boykin (Griffin) Shepherd, and his nephew Thomas Griffin Shepherd.
Speed is survived by his second wife, Virginia Mary Griffin of Lilburn, Georgia, his son and daughter-in-law Joe and Jo Henra (Pearson) Griffin of St. Charles, Missouri, grandsons Stewart Shane Griffin of St. Charles, Missouri, and Shaefer Wood Griffin of St. Louis, Missouri; granddaughter and grandson-in-law Shannon Curtis (Griffin) and Christopher Owens of Trussville, Alabama; great-grandson Ryan Christopher Owens and great-granddaughter Miranda Curtis Owens of Trussville, Alabama, nephew James Dean Shepherd of Anniston, Alabama, brother-in-law Harold Martin (Daisy) of Gainesville, Florida, numerable nieces, nephews, and friends, and by Virginia’s large and growing family who befriended him as their own.
Speed was born in Troy, Alabama, November 21, 1916, and remained a resident of Troy for 91 years before declining health required a move to St. Charles, Missouri, in late 2007 to reside with his son and daughter-in-law. Following his graduation from Troy High School he was employed by J. Roy Crow as a bus driver for Florida-Alabama Motor Lines (FAML) and by the start of World War II he had been promoted to Traffic Manager. At a time when air travel was a novelty, bus lines were a major means of transportation and therefore critical to military logistics. Under his direction, FAML assisted the Department of Defense throughout the war by orchestrating the transfer of active-duty personnel to posts of duty at various military instillations in the Southeast including Columbus, Georgia, Montgomery and Ozark, Alabama, and Pensacola and Panama City, Florida. Following the war, Mr. Crow appointed Speed as manager of Crow Supply Company on Court Square. After several years there, Speed went into partnership with Joel Witherington to form Royal Tire Service, the local distributor of Uniroyal Tires, at 301 North 3-Notch Street. Located across the street from the Troy Bank and Trust Company’s downtown branch, the RTS building‘s second floor was the last home of the very popular Troy Teenage Canteen. Speed’s last employment was with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s local office in Spring Hill. He retired in 1984.
Speed was an avid golfer and enjoyed playing the links at the Troy County Club of which he was founding secretary and other courses throughout the Southeast. He was a member of the Troy Rotary Club where he also held the office of secretary. He was a life-long attendee of the First Baptist Church of Troy. Entered into its Cradle Roll following his birth in 1916, FBC remained his church home until his death. In 1953, Speed responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ through the testimony of the Reverend Herbert Howard, a fellow high-school classmate and pastor of a Baptist church in Texas. Along with his son, Joe, he was baptized into fellowship of FBC. Speed is also among those men who served as president of the men’s Baraca Class in the church’s Sunday School department. During his time in Missouri, he enjoyed receiving Prayergrams from fellow FBC members through the church’s Intercessory Prayer Ministry.
Speed’s dry wit endeared him to his friends, his honor and integrity was recognized by all with whom he had dealings, and he was cherished and revered by everyone in his family. He won the hearts of his new friends in Missouri by his impeccable manners and kind disposition which earned from them the title True Southern Gentleman.
Troy lost a solid citizen and devoted Trojan when his health required him to move to Missouri. There he received the love and support of the congregation of Grace Doctrine Church where Joe has been pastor for twenty-six years. Believers who knew Speed in Troy and in the St. Louis area are saddened by his passing but made joyous by the knowledge of his promotion and their confidence in the promised future reunion.
Memorial services will be held for Speed at Grace Doctrine Church in St. Charles, Missouri, at 11:00 A.M., Sunday, April 10, followed by a reception in the church, and at the First Baptist Church of Troy, Alabama, at 2:00 P.M. on Wednesday, April 20 followed by a reception in the church parlor. Each eulogy will be delivered by the Reverend Joe Griffin. Speed will be interred next to his wife, Nona, in Green Hills Cemetery which the family will visit privately following the reception.
The family requests that expressions of sympathy be directed to the First Baptist Church of Troy, 200 West College Street, Troy, AL 36081 or Grace Doctrine Church, 1821 South River Road, St. Charles, MO 63303.