Written by Mary Beth Harrison
NORTH FORK – A gala gathering of North Fork residents along with many of her family members gathered at Grace Community Church in North Fork on Aug. 1, to say farewell to Jo Ann Griffin, a long time North Fork resident and teacher.
Jo Ann came to North Fork with her husband, David Royce, in 1962. They both worked at North Fork School and today the road to North Fork School is named Royce Drive. David Royce died in 1978, but Jo Ann remained in North Fork, active in many local groups and with Grace Community Church.
Later, Jo Ann married Mal Griffin and the two of them were active in the organization VORP, Victim Offenders Reconciliation Program and PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Many locals and family members shared fond and funny memories of Jo Ann and her many contributions to local people in need, and mission work far and near. Over the years many people who had fallen on hard times and animals that needed a home found a friend in Jo Ann.
Parents thanked her for her special care for their children in her classroom and grown students thanked her for being a compassionate and effective teacher.
One of Jo Ann’s proudest achievements was the development of a program she called A Mother’s Voice. She and others visited women in prison and helped them read stories to their children into a tape recorder. The tapes and the story book were then mailed to the children.
Jo Ann’s friends at Grace Community Church thanked her for her long time involvement in the children’s education program, the Friendship Circle, the Thrift Store, missions fund raising, and Heifer Project fund raising. The church presented Jo Ann with a large painting of the church done by a local artist.
Two members of the local musical group, Sugar Pine – Chuck Thrapp and Dave Novell – serenaded Jo Ann and those gathered as they enjoyed a fabulous potluck meal and a special cake provided by the church.
For health reasons, Jo Ann is moving to an assisted living facility closer to her children. Our mountain community will sorely miss her!