Hollis Eugene Griffin, 87; avid ham radio operator helped foreign missionaries communicate with their families in the U.S.

Hollis Griffin was a great communicator all his life, even if he was sometimes a silent party in the connection.

Born in the South Georgia town of Holt in 1925, Hollis Griffin was a quiet kid who grew up with a passion for math and softball. He excelled in school, but never bragged about his accomplishments.

“It wasn’t important to him to get recognition,” said his brother, Shirley Griffin of Macon. “In softball, he wanted to win, but he didn’t promote himself and would generally promote someone else,” he said. “He never wanted to be the top student, but he wanted to know as much as that student.”

Hollis Eugene Griffin of Canton, formerly of Conyers, died at his home on April 26 from complications of Alzheimer’s. He was 87. The body was cremated. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 5 at Scot Ward Funeral Services’ Green Meadow Chapel, also in charge of arrangements.

After Griffin graduated from high school, his son. Reg Griffin of Canton, said his father had tried to volunteer for the service, but by the time he got home from the recruiter’s office, his draft paperwork had come in the mail.

Hollis Griffin wanted to be a pilot in the service, according to his brother, but a broken ear drum prevented that. Griffin became a radio operator with the Army Air Corps, forerunner to the U.S. Air Force, during WWII, where he was stationed in Newfoundland and the Azores Islands.

After the service, Griffin graduated from Middle Georgia College, where his met his wife of 61 years, the late Betty Jo Griffin. He later graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology and became an electrical engineer. He worked for Georgia Power for more than 30 years, where he designed substations across the state.

His interest in electronics and putting things together was infused into his home life as well. Griffin, an avid ham radio operator, built his own radio room off the garage of his home, which included a 40-foot tower on the roof. A quiet man in a family of talkers, he also used that space as a solitary retreat.

“Mom did a lot of the talking, but dad was the communicator and brought people together,” said Reg Griffin.

A former deacon at Glenwood Hills Baptist Church, Griffin used his radio skills to connect people who were thousands of miles away from their families on missions trips, to speak to them over ham radio via phone patch.

“He talked to missionaries around the world and particularly liked how he could relay things back to their families,” said his brother. “He talked about how exciting it was to patch a mother to her missionary son.”

Reg Griffin said his father was “truly a man of few words, but when he spoke, you listened.”

And even before his death, Griffin reconnected his sons, born 10 years apart, to become closer, without saying a word.

Despite declining health, Hollis was able to remain in his home with the assistance of full-time caregivers. During the last two weeks of his life Mr. Hollis was under hospice care. His son Richard recalled that one of the caregivers told him that if there were any issues that needed to be resolved, now was the time.

While he could not think of any, he made a call to his brother Reg and they spoke on speaker phone while Richard was in the room with their father. “I told my brother that it would have been very important to our father for us to become closer and we talked for about an hour,” Richard said. “The minute I hung up the phone he took his last breaths. I felt it was very much of God. It was a very good feeling, like that the last thing he wanted was for me and my brother to be closer.”

Additional survivors include four grandchildren.