Norma Dorothy Griffith, a San Bruno resident, activist and volunteer for more than six decades, died on December 10th after a brief illness. Her husband of more than fifty years, Fred Richard Griffith, the first democratically elected Mayor in San Bruno history, preceded her in death in 2001. She is survived by her sisters, Burgel and Linda, her son, Steve, and his wife, Peggy.
Mrs. Griffith was born in Chicago, but spent most of her childhood and adolescence in Germany and Austria, where she witnessed first-hand the rise and fall of fascism in the ‘30’s and 40’s, only to see it rear its ugly head again in her native country some seven decades later. Upon her return to her American home, she met her future husband, and they settled in Detroit, where they married, and welcomed their only child. After living for several years in Indianapolis, they escaped its provincialism and “anti-immigrant sentiment,” moving to San Francisco and San Bruno, where they lived the remainder of their lives. There they would thrive amidst, relish and enjoy, the Bay Area’s freedom, culture and natural beauty.
Active her entire life, Norma travelled throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe, enjoying hiking, bicycling, skiing and swimming. A musician as a child, she was an avid music lover and aficionado of the ballet and symphony, as well as the dramatic theater and museums. One of her great additional passions was reading, which she indulged in daily. Some of her favorite authors were Thomas Hardy, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, W.G. Sebald, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Alice Munro. The last twenty two years of her life, she devoted five to six days a week swimming at the Mills-Peninsula Pool. There she cultivated a number of cherished friends, whom she dubbed “poolies,” and they remained close to her until the end.
Both she and her husband were crossword puzzle compilers by profession, and engaged head-on with local, regional and national politics. They advocated for open spaces in the area, fighting special interests and corruption. Their grassroots efforts resulted in, among other things, the San Bruno Senior Center, the Buckeye Park Redwood Memorial Grove, and the preservation of countless pristine parks and meadows.
Norma will be laid to rest next to her husband in Golden Gate National Cemetery, in San Bruno. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Mills-Peninsula Hospital, San Francisco Symphony, Ballet, San Francisco Fine Arts Museums, the American Conservatory Theater and Berkeley Repertory Theater.