Steve Griffiths, a former Fresno Bee editor, travel agent and fan of Broadway shows, has died from complications of a leg infection. He was 49.
He died early Thursday at Adventist Medical Center in Hanford following a two-year struggle that included a lengthy hospital stay in December and January, said his father, Fred Griffiths.
Mr. Griffiths, a resident of Lemoore, began his news career while in his teens. At 17, he covered the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas – at which he was also a youth delegate – for the Hanford Sentinel.
The following year, he became a reporter at the Visalia Times-Delta and advanced to assistant managing editor, and in 1993 was named editor and operations manager of the Tulare Advance-Register after Gannett bought the Tulare newspaper.
Three years later, he took a position as managing editor of the Norwich Bulletin in Connecticut but soon returned to California.
He was hired as news editor of The Fresno Bee and served as editor of the South Valley Bee.
The following year, he was named The Bee’s public affairs manager.
“Steve Griffiths was an outstanding journalist, a creative entrepreneur and a loyal friend,” said Jim Boren, The Bee’s executive editor. “He made our region a much better place.”
After leaving The Bee, he owned and operated Executive Travel in Tulare for several years, and remained a travel agent for select clients until his death.
More recently, he operated an online flower delivery service specializing in the military market.
For two years, he handled marketing for the Vintage Press, Jack & Charlie’s and Southern Pacific Depot restaurants in Visalia.
I liked to call him a bon vivant.
Connie Conway, former Assembly member and Tulare resident
Donna Pfeiffer, formerly of Tulare, said she got to know Mr. Griffiths when both were in the travel business.
“He liked to get at the truth of the issue,” she said. “He would make me laugh on the darkest of days. He was bright and witty and intelligent.”
Mr. Griffiths also served as marketing and communications manager for Connie Conway when she ran for Tulare County supervisor in 2000, and for the Assembly in 2008.
“I used to call him a bon vivant,” Conway said. “It was the interest in art, music and fine living.”
Mr. Griffiths’ passions included Broadway theater, and he attended many productions. For 25 years, he attended the Tony Awards in New York City, his father said.
While in Tulare, he arranged events to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Tulare Historical Museum, said former museum director Ellen Gorelick.
“He was an incredibly creative, talented, can-do person,” Gorelick said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Mr. Griffiths was born in Harbor City and moved to Lemoore when his father, an electrical engineer, took a defense-related job in the area. His mother, Barbara, died in 2004.
He graduated from Lemoore High, where he was editor of the school paper. He took journalism and sociology classes at Fresno State.
Mr. Griffiths was a member of Lemoore Rotary Club and a former board member of the Tulare County Symphony and Tulare Historical Museum.
Date of birth: Nov. 30, 1966
Date of death: Feb. 4, 2016
Occupation: Editor, travel agent
Survivors: Father Fred; brothers Don, James; sister Susan Kay Brown
Services: 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, Lemoore Cemetery, 1441 N. Lemoore Ave.