Barbara Louise Heide Griffin
How do we capture the fullness and beauty of a life in a few inches of text? The following is our attempt.
Barbara Griffin — mother, wife, and friend of extraordinary love, grace, and inner and outer beauty — took her last breath on Sept. 29, 2021. She passed away peacefully in Billings, surrounded by family and music. The oldest of four children, Barb was born in Crosby, North Dakota, on March 20, 1936, to Eleanor (nee Jacobson) and Albert Heide. Valedictorian of her high school class of 1954, she chose to attend St. Olaf College in part because of the famed chorale program. She performed in the prestigious St. Olaf Choir for three years and was chosen to be alto soloist for the song, “Beautiful Savior.” To hear her strong alto soar above the choir would bring tears to your eyes. In 1958, she graduated from St Olaf, becoming the first person in her family to earn an undergraduate degree. The next summer, working at East Glacier Lodge as a waitress and singer, she met the love of her life, Phillip Griffin Jr, a handsome young “gear jammer.”
They were married a year and a half later and began their life together in Chicago, where Barb taught high school and Phil attended medical school, welcoming son Bradley in August of 1961. While stationed at Malmstrom Air Base in Great Falls, they welcomed son, Jeffrey, in 1963. While at the University of Michigan, Barb and Phil welcomed son Michael in 1967 and, in 1968, moved to Billings. This was the beginning of more than 50 years together in the Billings community, raising three sons and weaving the tapestry of a life well lived, using threads of family, community, faith, music and fun.
Barb was one of those people who could call upon people’s better angels in service to others and she did this many times over her life, both within her extended family and across the community. She was a “giver” and lived by the credo of “To whom much is given, much is expected.” This was exhibited by her service to the Billings Symphony Board, the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, PEO, Junior League, YWCA and others. Barb joyfully created and tended her lovely garden and enjoyed hiking, cross country skiing, and travel.
Barbara lived a life filled with love, a truly Christian life. She was an amazing wife, mother and grandma to her grandchildren, whom she adored. She was an accomplished cook who made entertaining look effortless, always making her family and guests feel special. She had a classic beauty that radiated from within. Her smile was sunshine. She will be remembered for her grace, wisdom, gentle strength and patience, and unconditional love for family and friends.
The family would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to the incredible staff and caregivers at Mission Ridge and St. Johns, and Right at Home.
No service is planned at this time but we will celebrate her life when it is safe to bring together friends and family.
Survivors include her husband of 61 years, Phil; sons Brad (Lisa) of Billings, Jeff (Amy) of Rome, Italy, and Mike (Vanessa) of Minneapolis; grandchildren Phillip, Jack, Samuel, Thomas, Paul and Madeleine; siblings Becky, David (Leah) and Chuck (Elaine); numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Eleanor and Albert and beloved nieces Kaia and Beth.
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