G. Lee Griffin had just arrived home after work Tuesday night when he received an unexpected call.
Griffin’s wife, Barrie, did not recognize the number, so she handed him the phone.
It turns out it was a call from The Advocate to notify Griffin that he had been chosen as the 71st Golden Deeds award winner.
“I had no reason to believe that (I would win),” Griffin said.
The Golden Deeds is an award bestowed annually to a local philanthropist by the Inter-Civic Council and The Advocate.
Griffin said he probably knows about “90 percent” of the past Golden Deeds winners and has come to admire all of them.
“Those that I knew, I knew deserved recognition,” Griffin said. “I’m honored to be part of that group.”
Griffin serves as president and CEO of the LSU Foundation, which provides financial support to LSU and its institutions.
He has held the position since July 2011, when he was asked to fill in indefinitely for the retiring Maj. Gen. William Bowden.
Griffin has been a board member of the LSU Foundation for 30 years. He is the longest-serving member on the board today.
“They just asked me to step in,” he said.
Griffin is also the retired CEO and chairman of Bank One of Louisiana, which is now Chase. He stepped down in 1999.
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.
Griffin keeps his numerous awards and honors in his study.
They include plaques showing his induction into the LSU Alumni Hall of Distinction and the LSU College of Business Hall of Distinction.
Griffin’s admiration for LSU football is apparent as well.
A Tiger football helmet signed by head football coach Les Miles sits in one corner of the room.
Griffin said his belief in giving back to the community was instilled in him early in his career at Louisiana National Bank, which always believed in philanthropic efforts.
Griffin said the greatest reward from giving back is seeing the community grow.
“When I came to Baton Rouge — I don’t know what the population was in 1960, but it was a sleepy town,” he said. “To see Baton Rouge develop as it has and become the city that it is has been a real thrill for me.”
Griffin also said his Christian faith guides his philanthropy, noting that the Bible says one of man’s greatest requirements is to help the poor.
“Barrie and I both believe in helping the underserved and the less fortunate,” he said.
Griffin said he’s just trying to maximize the talents God has given him.
“I don’t think I have any more talents than anybody else,” Griffin said.
Griffin will be honored in a banquet at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Renaissance Hotel on Bluebonnet Boulevard.
To purchase tickets, call Inter-Civic Council treasurer Liz Pav at (225) 343-8874. Tickets will be $50 each.