Raymond L. Griffin Jr., a former president and one of the founders of the Suffolk County Detectives Association who had a nearly 44-year career in the county police department, has died. He was 73.
Griffin, who lived in Lake Ronkonkoma over six decades, died Tuesday at home surrounded by his wife, mother and other family members after battling heart disease for more than a year.
“He was my idol and lifelong hero,” said one of his sons, Raymond L. Griffin III, a New York City firefighter and Lake Ronkonkoma fire commissioner and former chief. “He was a strong leader, a true-to-the-core type of person who lived and breathed his work. He taught us all by example the value of volunteering and service.”
Griffin became a county police officer in 1966 and was assigned to the Fourth Precinct, where he later became a detective. He later served for more than two decades in the rackets squad of the district attorney’s office.
Active in the union, Griffin also represented other detectives when they were part of the county police union and then became one of the founding officials when detectives formed their own bargaining unit. Griffin later served two terms as union president. His son said he retired in 2010.
John Gallagher, a former police commissioner, praised Griffin’s work as a labor leader.
“He was a union leader I felt I could always could reason with," Gallagher said. "He was not obstructive and he would listen. We didn’t always agree, but we could always sit down and talk.”
Born Aug. 11, 1945, in Jamaica, Queens, one of three children, he attended local Catholic schools. The family moved to Lake Ronkonkoma in 1958, where he graduated from St. Joseph Elementary School and later Seton Hall High School in Patchogue. He also graduated from Dowling College in Oakdale with a bachelor's degree in history. Later, he earned a master's degree in public policy from C.W. Post College in Greenvale while in the police department.
Griffin married his high school sweetheart, Maryalice Finnerty, on Nov. 20, 1965. She's the daughter of the late John Finnerty, who served as deputy police commissioner, county sheriff and Islip town board member. His wife was a longtime English honors teacher at Hampton Bays High School.
In addition to his career, his family said Griffin loved to body surf and surfcast on the beach and boat on the Great South Bay. He also was an avid skier who took his family on annual vacations to Ste. Anne Beaupre in Quebec, Canada. Griffin also loved to travel with his family by tent camping, and later by pop-up trailer and regular trailer up and down the East Coast.
Other survivors include his mother, Helen Griffin of Lake Ronkonkoma; brothers James Griffin of Oyster Bay and Robert Griffin of Sterling, Virginia; two other sons, Michael Griffin of East Moriches and Sean Griffin of Syracuse; daughter Kerry Vann of Holbrook, and 12 grandchildren.
A wake will be held Saturday and Sunday at Moloney’s Funeral Home in Lake Ronkonkoma from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Lake Ronkonkoma at 11 a.m. Monday. Burial will follow at Lake Ronkonkoma Cemetery South. Contributions can be sent to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, Tennessee, 38105.