Honoring a community leader

September 11, 2012 Editorial Staff
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Brooklyn newspaper pioneer, James Francis Griffin, better known as Frank, who founded The Home Reporter in 1953, acting as its publisher and editor for six decades, was honored on Sunday, September 9 as the corner where the newspaper is headquartered was renamed in his memory.

Due to his active role in the community, and considered a civic leader, Griffin, who died last year at 83 just a couple of months after selling the newspaper and its sister publication, The Spectator, to Schneps Communications, was given a little piece of his town in memory of his remarkable contributions. A sign proclaiming “Frank Griffin Way” now marks the intersection of 88th Street and Third Avenue, symbolizing the countless hours he spent in the news room.

He gave “wonderful gifts to this community,” said Democratic District Leader Joseph Bova “and to this paper.”

The street naming ceremony was held on Sunday, September 9, with many of Griffin’s friends and family present, as well as local elected officials such as Councilmember Vincent Gentile; State Senator Martin Golden; Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis; Joanne Seminara, chair of community board 10; and Sara Otey, former editor of this paper, who expressed their appreciation for having worked with this “incredible man.”

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“Generations will remember his name,” Seminara acknowledged in her speech about Griffin.

Each of the attendees who spoke shared a special memory of Griffin, who grew up in Baltimore, but moved to New York City later in his life, obtaining a master’s degree from Fordham University.

Griffin was mainly described as the man who truly loved his newspapers.

“He gave back to his city, and to the community he loved,” remarked Gentile, adding that other papers at the time tried to “copy and outdo Frank’s style,” known to be hyper local.

“Frank’s heart was for his community’s good,” he added. He went on by saying that his “headlines often leapt from the pages of The Home Reporter and The Brooklyn Spectator each week, grabbing readers in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Sunset Park, in a way that seemed to belie the quiet and formal man.”

Longtime columnists Chuck Otey and Ted General, the latter of whom still writes for the paper, came to memorialize him.

“He was community-minded,” General said, describing how local events like the Ragamuffin parade were “highly successful” because of Griffin, who served as grand marshal of the Ragamuffin Parade, one of Bay Ridge’s most beloved traditions.

Frank’s sister, Mary Jane Smith, who came from Denver, Colorado for the ceremony, remembered him as a “very loving brother, who gave lots of time to the paper,” and Jim Griffin, Griffin’s son and The Home Reporter’s sales manager, said his father would have been very shy, but proud about the tribute.

“This is such an amazing honor,” the younger Griffin concluded.

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