Richard Laurence “Larry” Griffin, 85, of Hunt, Texas, died on February 23, 2020 of natural causes.
Larry was born December 25, 1934 along with his twin brother Gerry, in Athens, Texas, to Herschel and Helen Griffin. Inspired by his older brother Ken who was an Eagle Scout and a B-17 pilot in World War II, Larry too became an Eagle Scout and chose military service. He attended the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) graduating in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Air Force. Larry attended flight school, became a fighter interceptor pilot, later an experimental test pilot and eventually a life member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War serving as a Forward Air Controller in the O-1E Bird Dog at Pleiku Air Base in the Central Highlands in 1966-1967. After returning from Vietnam he served in multiple flying and staff tours and was a commander at the squadron and wing levels.
As a senior officer he served as the liaison between the Secretary of the Air Force and NASA during the early years of the Space Shuttle Program. During this assignment he was selected as the Mission Commander for the Space Shuttle “Enterprise”/Boeing 747 tour of North America and Europe where it was featured at the Paris Air Show. In his last active duty assignment, Larry became the first commander of the 2nd Space Wing (now the 50th Space Wing) of the Air Force Space Command at Schriever Air Force Base near Colorado Springs.
He was an in-residence graduate of the Air Force Squadron Officer School, Air Command & Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now The Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy). He retired in June 1986 at the rank of colonel after a distinguished and highly decorated 30-year career.
After retiring from the Air Force, Larry established and operated his own aerospace consulting company, Griffin & Associates, before he was named Executive Director of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership in the region adjacent NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. Larry later served under then-Governor George W. Bush as Executive Director of the Texas Aerospace Commission and finally as County Commissioner Precinct 4 in Kerr County, Texas.
Larry was an outdoorsman - he enjoyed camping, hunting, fishing, sailing, and snow skiing with family and friends. A champion chili cook, he forged lifelong friendships with his Red Baron Chili Team members and with many of his “friendly competitors” at the JSC Chili Cookoff and The Outpost Chili Cookoff. He also loved to travel. Larry and his wife Sandy found Paris, France, to be their special place they visited often. Over the years of spending time at their favorite literary café Les Deux Magots they added many lifelong friends there as well. And Larry’s passion for flying didn’t end with his retirement from the Air Force. He purchased and then led a team of specialists in the tear-down and re-manufacturing of a customized Piper Super Cub, and in a solo attempt to capture the world altitude record for the aircraft’s class reached an altitude of 28,000 feet. Later Larry and his twin brother, Gerry, set two point-to-point world speed records for the aircraft’s class.
He was preceded in death by his mother, father and older brother, Kenneth H. Griffin.
He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Sandra Gail Griffin of Hunt, Texas; twin brother Gerry (wife Sandy) of Hunt, Texas; son Kenneth (wife Aundrea) of Fort Worth, Texas; son Patrick (fiancée Lisa) of Atlanta, Georgia; daughter Lauri Brender (husband Aaron) of College Station, Texas; grandchildren Brittnie Alphin, Ashley Giles, Courtney Peters, Brandon Griffin, Hayden Griffin, McKenna Griffin, and Helena Griffin; great grandchildren Rhett and Joshua Alphin; nieces Jan Anderson and Gwen Saylor; nephew Kirk Griffin and numerous extended family and friends.
Colonel Richard Laurence Griffin, USAF (retired), will be interred with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday May 27th at 9:00 AM.
A Celebration of Life reception will be 3:00 PM on Saturday, June 6th at Bridget’s Basket in Hunt, Texas. If you would like to help Celebrate the life of Larry Griffin, please join the family.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets (online at https://corps.tamu.edu/support-the-corps-of-cadets/).
Arrangements are under the direction and personal care of the professionals at Kerrville Funeral Home (830) 895-5111.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Richard L Griffin, please visit our floral store.
Texas A&M University Corps Of Cadets