Obituaries

Thomas Gilbert Griffith

Thomas Gilbert Griffith passed away October 1, 2012, in San Mateo, CA. 

 

Born in Berkeley, CA, to Mr. and Mrs. Edward McConnell Griffith (Helen Elizabeth Atkinson) on January 28, 1942, he traced his roots to a family who arrived by clipper ship through the Golden Gate before the start of the California Gold Rush in 1848. His great-grandfather Captain Millen Griffith, with John D. Spreckels as partner, founded the first fleet of tug boats on San Francisco Bay, The Ship Owners & Merchants Line, known as the Red Star Tugs. The company later pioneered the use of tugs in the whaling and salmon canning industry in Alaska. 

A fourth-generation San Franciscan, Tom attended Ulysses S. Grant School, the Robert Louis Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, and Claremont Men’s College before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley, where his father and all of his aunts and uncles had matriculated.  At Berkeley he was an active member and later president of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and Skull and Keys.  Upon graduating he served in the United States Coast Guard during the Vietnam War.  He married Susan Abbay Hackett in San Francisco in 1968.  Suzy and Tom moved to Seattle for two years, returning to San Francisco in 1970 when Tom became director of marketing for Delta Lines.  They moved from San Francisco to Hillsborough in 1971. In 1975 he founded his own trucking company, Trans Bay Express.  He subsequently shifted his interest to commercial real estate development and management, which he pursued for the rest of his career. 

 

Tom was an avid alpine skier and traveler who spent his life wintering in the high Sierras at his family’s houses on the Truckee River at Lake Tahoe and summering outside of Florence, Italy, at Villa L’Acciaio, which had been restored by his parents.  An Eagle Scout, he was an ardent collector of Studebaker automobiles and trucks, a voracious reader and a gifted antiquarian with an extensive knowledge of decorative arts.  He enjoyed fly-fishing and sailing with his two sons, as well as much of his time spent at the family’s ranch, Fandango Farm, in the Sierra Foothills near Yosemite, where he had a multitude of projects constantly underway.  He was a member of the Society of California Pioneers, the Burlingame Country Club and the Bohemian Club.

 

 

Survived by his beloved wife of 44 years, he was the devoted father of Charles Lord Griffith III of San Mateo and Millen Griffith VI of San Francisco, and adoring grandfather of Charles Lord Griffith IV and Harris Matthew Griffith.  He is also survived by his mother and by his younger brother Richard A. Griffith. He was predeceased by his brother Peter Edward Griffith in 1966 and by his father in 2010.