Parks L. Griffin, co-founder of Wilmington-based independent insurance brokerage firm GriffinEstep, has died at age 60 as a result of cancer.
Griffin, who died Dec. 23 at home, founded GriffinEstep with Hank Estep in 1998. The pair grew the company from a two-man operation into a 10-employee firm with an office at Barclay Commons.
Estep said Griffin not only was enormously likable but also had the ability to connect people to each other in beneficial ways, making a statewide impact.
When they met, Estep said, "he was a broker, and I was at Blue Cross, and I was like, 'I like that guy,' immediately, right off the bat. . . He was one of those guys, he was laser-focused in on you and the conversation."
Where some people like to play golf or go boating in their free time, Griffin "liked going out and meeting people and truly helped people out. He did things for people and he didn't expect anything in return," Estep said.
Born Dec. 3, 1957, in Durham, the eighth of nine children of the late William Kimball Griffin and Elizabeth Uzzell Griffin, Griffin was a graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, according to his online obituary. He was past vice chairman of the New Hanover County Republican party from 1993 to 1995 and was involved in former Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign and administration.
On Dec. 18, 2016, Griffin was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by McCrory in a ceremony held at the governor’s mansion in Raleigh.
He was a founding member of the Wilmington South Rotary Club, past president of the UNCW Seahawk Club, served on the board of directors of The Cape Fear Museum and was past chairman of the Wilmington International Airport Authority.
"Parks lived a remarkable life full of laughter, wit, and an unwavering sense of purpose to make the things he loved better every day: his family, his community, and his friends," said Woody White, a friend of Griffin's and chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, in a text Tuesday. "His legacies are many, but after his incredible family, his most notable are the mark he made at UNCW with his untiring efforts to ensure due process for students; and his realized vision for the Wilmington airport as a warm Southern welcome to travelers arriving there."
White also said, "A century will likely go by until this state sees someone as committed as Parks was, to its ideals and virtues. He loved North Carolina. Tammie and I are still numb over losing him. He was the godfather of our two children and a light in our lives that will never go out."
A funeral service for Griffin will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at St. James Episcopal Church with the Rev. Ronald G. Abrams officiating, according to Griffin's obituary. Following the service, the family will receive friends at the church in the fellowship hall.
Griffin is survived by his wife of 36 years, Sue Sterken Griffin, and a daughter, son and many brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.
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