Veteran journalist Carol M. Griffee, 74, of North Little Rock, died January 24, 2011 after a long struggle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by smoking.
Carol was born December 30, 1937, in Washington, D.C., to University of Arkansas graduates John F., a newsman, and Leda Mae Woodruff Griffee. After John’s death in June 1946, his widow moved the family to Fort Smith where Carol graduated from high school in 1955 and immediately began her first full-time journalism job as a reporter for the Fort Smith Times-Record.
Carol graduated with honors Phi Gamma Kappa (now Phi Beta Kappa) in journalism-history/political science from the University of Tulsa in 1959 and received her masters degree in history/political science from that institution in 1966. She was a member of Mortar Board; Phi Alpha Theta (history); Pi Gamma Mu (social sciences); Phi Delta Epsilon and Pi Alpha Mu (journalism); was president of Epsilon Gamma Chapter of Phi Mu sorority and of Lottie Jane Mabee Hall for Women; and was chosen three consecutive years for Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, among other honors. She also worked full-time during college as a Tulsa World reporter.
She returned to the Washington, D.C. area in 1961 and was a reporter/photographer/editor for two Farifax County (VA.) weekly newspapers before joining the staff of the old Washington Star from 1963-66. From 1966 until returning to Arkansas in December 1972, Carol was city and then executive editor of the Arlington-based Northern Virginia Sun, a daily.
Carol was a reporter for the old Arkansas Gazette from 1973 until resigning in 1985 to become an independent journalist and add book and magazine writings to her efforts through her own company. Although her Gazette assignments varied widely, she became known primarily for environmental, investigative, and political coverage and for being a fierce protector of the Freedom of Information Act, including serving on the state Electronics Records Study Commission in 1999.
She wrote several histories, including those of the Little Rock Wastewater Utility, the Arkansas Conservation Sales Tax, and the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area.
She was the current parliamentarian and a former president of the Arkansas Press Women Association, a former board member of the National Federation of Press Women, and had been active in the Arkansas Professional Chapter, The Society of Professional Journalists, which gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award, October 20, 2010. Among other honors, she was the Arkansas Wildlife Federation’s 1985 Conservationist of the Year; 1996 Arkansas Journalist from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; received the Arkansas Press Association’s Freedom of Information Award in 1997; was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame 1999,
and received the Ernie Deane Award for valor in journalism in 2004. She also served on the board of the former Greater Little Rock Community Mental Health Center and of the Arkansas Women’s History Institute.
Carol moved to North Little Rock in late 2005 after 32 years in Little Rock.
She was predeceased by a brother, John F. Griffee Jr. Survivors include his widow, Shelly van Loben Sels Griffee of Marion; nephews John F. Griffee III (Char) of Marion, and J. Mark Griffee Sr. (Virginia) of Memphis, TN.; nieces Karen G. Phares (David) of Chandler, AZ, and Kim Griffee (Herb Ross) of Livermore, CO.; sister-in-law Barbara Maltby of Clinton, MS; two great-nephews, John F. Griffee IV of Little Rock and J. Mark Griffee Jr., of Memphis, and two great-nieces, Dr. Susan R. Griffee of Marion and Susannah L. Griffee of New York City.
Carol wanted no services. Burial in Fort Smith will be private by Edwards Funeral Home.
Memorials would be welcome to the Arkansas Press Women Scholarship Fund, C/O Treasurer Terry Hawkins, 216 S. John St., Dumas, AR, 71639, or to a charity of one’s choice.