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Don Griffis Passes On To The Great Beyond…Where He Will Continue Organizing Veterans Nursing Homes

January 5, 2019

Don Griffis, at “his office” at Paneras – the last meeting. December 20, 2018

Eleven days prior to his death, a friend and former Fitz employee, and I met with Colorado State Veterans’ Home at Fitzsimons resident, Don Griffis, at “his office” – Panera’s, on East Colfax across the street from the Anschutz Medical Campus where the veterans’ nursing home is located. Shortly thereafter, either late in the night of the last day of 2018, or early on New Year’s Day, 2019, Griffis died. That morning when a nurse came to wake him he had already passed over to the great beyond.

From the time that Griffis entered the facility he shortly thereafter came into his own as a perceptive, patient and quite frankly, sophisticated advocate of residents’ rights. Although lately his contribution is acknowledged by all, it wasn’t all that long ago that certain Human Services administrators tried to have him expelled from the facility for his activism on behalf of residents. He fought back, won his case and continued, like the Everready bunny, to keep going and going.  Until the end, he did what he could to improve the lot of residents. And “what he could” was a great deal.

As some one who had written about the situation at “Fitz” which seems in one way or another to be mired in one crisis or another, I had gotten a call about a “new issue” and wanted Griffis’ take on the situation, called him and asked for a meeting. He obliged. “The word” – coming from a number former Fitz employees that the bills of as a many as forty residents that should have been paid by the institution, had gone to collection and that residents themselves were getting collection notices and calls, many of these people having now to deal with unnecessary financial pressures on top of the heaps of medical problems that beset them.

Turns out that Griffis was one of them and that he had, in his inimitable way tried to get another Fitz mess – the kind that never should have happened in the first place – cleared up. When I asked him how it was going, he replied, typically, “I’m working on it.” And when Griffis said he was “working on it” you can be sure that he wasn’t exaggerating. It was, as usual, a fruitful exchange.

He was in good spirits, enjoyed showing his pictures taken with outgoing Governor John Hickenlooper, some of the higher-ups at the Colorado Division of Human Services that oversees Fitz operations – or should – and several people on related governing boards. They all knew Griffis as did pretty much all the state legislators whose district covered the veterans’ nursing home facility.

I will be writing much more about Don Griffis in the days to come. The former professional flautist and Metro State University music history teacher was an unlikely, articulate and intrepid organizer for resident rights. Already his death is being felt throughout the state system.

Good bye Don…You set a brisk pace. We’ll try to keep up with you.

2018 - 12 - 20 - don griffis - 3

Jacquie Anderson, Colorado Wins Executive Board Member, Don Griffis and  Lynne Winchell, former Business officer mgr at Fitz. at the December, 2018 Governor’s Ball


3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2019 1:58 am

    Don Griffis,RIP
    By the way, Robert Prince it was good to have seen you at RT. Great insights!
    congratulations! Still waiting your response on American supported Khaleeji(KSA+UAE funded) Horn of Africa pivot to de-rail,destabilize and stop Chinese BRi/silk rd -maritime projects in the region.
    Dr. Bischara Egal

    • January 6, 2019 4:06 am

      Hello, good to hear from you. Bishara Egal… I thought I responded on that. Will check my email in the morning and send it out again. Thanks for good thoughts about Griffis…

  2. Su Ryden permalink
    January 11, 2019 1:34 pm

    Thank you for posting this story. I met Don a few years ago when I was a State Rep. appointed to the Fitz advisory committee. He, indeed, was a champion for the residents! I saw Don at the groundbreaking for the new supportive housing project and was so sorry to hear he had died. Were there services or any next-of-kin to send condolences to? I haven’t seen an obituary anywhere and many of us would like to know.

    Su Ryden

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