71st philanthropist wins Golden award

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Capital City Press publisher David Manship, left, congratulates G. Lee Griffin, the winner of the 2012 Golden Deeds award, during a banquet Monday.
Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Capital City Press publisher David Manship, left, congratulates G. Lee Griffin, the winner of the 2012 Golden Deeds award, during a banquet Monday.

This year’s Golden Deeds award winner G. Lee Griffin has always dedicated his time to the community, according to his good friend Millie Groner.

Groner said that when Griffin and his wife, Barrie, were on vacation in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit south Louisiana, they came back to Baton Rouge to see if they could help with the disaster relief.

“That’s just the kind of character he has,” Groner said. “He’s willing to help anyone.”

Griffin was honored for his civic duty Monday night as the 71st Golden Deeds winner at a banquet at the Renaissance Hotel on Bluebonnet Boulevard.

The Golden Deeds is an award bestowed annually to a local philanthropist by the Inter-Civic Council and The Advocate.

Griffin has served as president and CEO of the LSU Foundation, which provides financial support to LSU and its institutions, since July 2011. He retired in 1999 as CEO and chairman of Bank One of Louisiana, which is now Chase.

Groner said Griffin “is such a wonderful man.”

Griffin said in an interview before the banquet that he was humbled to win an award he considers among the top honors in Baton Rouge.

“It’s great to have my family here to enjoy this night,” he said. “I’m not sure I deserve this.”

Bill Griffin, Lee Griffin’s son, said his mother called him the day his father won the award.

“She left me a message because she knew my dad wouldn’t say anything about it,” he said.

Bill Griffin said he was not surprised his father won the award because he instilled a sense of giving in his three children beginning when they were young.

“Growing up as a young child, (I saw) he was always active in the community,” he said.

Bill Griffin said his father continues to work hard to this day with the LSU Foundation.

“But he’s enjoying it,” he said.

Richard Lipsey, the 2011 winner of the Golden Deeds award, said he has known Griffin since he was on the board of directors of Louisiana National Bank in the early 1970s.

Lipsey said Chuck McCoy, the president and CEO of Louisiana National Bank before Griffin, had Griffin picked out as his successor early in Griffin’s career.

“Chuck had his eye on Lee from the day Lee worked at the bank,” Lipsey said. “Everybody had their eye on Lee. He was a natural leader.”

Lipsey said he was honored to have Griffin join the Golden Deeds club.

“It makes people like me that have received the award feel even more honored,” he said.

David C. Manship, publisher of The Advocate, said he could not think of anyone more deserving of the Golden Deeds award than Griffin.

“I’ve known Lee for many years and have always been impressed with the amount of civic duty that he does,” Manship said.

Dan Borne, president of the Louisiana Chemical Association and the public address announcer for Tiger Stadium, said in his keynote speech that volunteerism is powered by one person asking groups of people to make changes in others’ lives.

“Lee knew how to call from others the desire to serve,” Borne said.

Griffin has served on numerous boards in his career, including the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation, the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, the Council for a Better Louisiana, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the Public Affairs Research Council.

Griffin is a past president and general campaign chairman of Capital Area United Way, which distributes funds to a number of charitable organizations in the Baton Rouge metro area.

Griffin helped found the Committee of 100 in Louisiana, an organization of business leaders dedicated to economic development.

Griffin is a previous winner of the National Conference of Christians and Jews’ Brotherhood Award.

Born in Kansas, Griffin earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1960 and a master’s in economics and finance from LSU in 1962.