Lewis Wyman Griffin, Jr., 75 of Phoenix, AZ died at home on March 9, 2023. Lew was born December 29, 1947 in Birmingham, AL. He was the son of Lewis W. Griffin, Sr. and Mildred (Latimer) Griffin. Lew was raised in Leeds, AL and was a devoted “BAMA” fan. Lew was a graduate of Ambassador College, Big Sandy, TX and the University of California, Irvine, CA. He eventually settled in as the database administrator for Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA. This is where he met and married Cathy McBirnie. When Cathy’s mom became ill, Lew and Cathy moved to Arizona to care for her, but Lew was able to continue to work remotely.
After he retired, Lew was able to work on family history full time. He first took an interest in family history in 1961, at age 13, when he saw a letter from his great grandmother’s brother, Joe Culpepper (1840-1920), who wrote, “they say there were two Lord Culpeppers, and we are descended from one of them.” Lew noted, “after all these years I still have not been able to prove Uncle Joe’s statement, but it has been fun trying.” Over the years, Lew located over 53,000 Culpepper descendants, including descendants of Culpepper daughters, and over 15,000 descendants of his other lines. Warren Culpepper offered to provide a server, a website and other technical resources if Lew would make his Culpepper data available on the internet. April 19, 1998, Warren and Lew launched the Culpepper Connections! Website. Lew would later create websites for his other lines.
After Lew put his data on the web, he stopped sending paper reports to correspondents. But one Dean cousin really wanted a paper report on his ancestry. He sent Lew a picture of himself in a University of Alabama baseball hat and this inspired Lew to propose a trade, a “BAMA” hat for a paper report. That hat was one of Lew’s prized possessions.
Lew is survived by his wife, Cathy, in Arizona; sister, Bonnie Turnage, in Missouri; brother, John, in Alabama; many nieces and nephews and a genealogy community that will miss him. No services planned.
Lew and I were classmates and sometimes dorm mates at Ambassador College, and good friends. Being a couple years older than me, he often advised: “You need a manager!” We remained friends after Ambassador and wound up both employed in IT by Santa Clara University. We had some fun in those jobs and did some good work together. Lunch out at Roo’s Cafe Salsa happened about weekly. My wife, Mary jeanne, was a witness at Lew and Cathy’s wedding. Then Lew and Cathy moved to Arizona. I visited once and was amazed at the nearly extraterrestrial (hot) weather. We went to the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden early in the morning when the temperature was tolerable, and I saw the plants that were like things from the set of Star Trek. That’s the last time we were together in person. Lew was very smart and could be quite influential. Smart and influential is a combination the world needs. We have a lot of reasons to miss Lew.
Mary Jeanne Oliva
I was honored and so happy to witness Lew and Cathy’s marriage and so glad they have had 30 wonderful years together. Lew was a groomsman at our wedding nearly 40 years ago, and was a good friend of my husband Stephen Estes since their college years, so we went “way back” although we had been out of touch in recent years. I have fond memories of Lew – his intense blue eyes, his witty remarks, his dedication to genealogy and sharing his research, his love of cats and of Cathy. I am sad that he has “shuffled off this mortal coil” so soon and know the happy memories will be a blessing as we mourn his passing.
I worked with Lew for many years at Santa Clara University when he was DBA there. Lew was a generous and loving person and I will sorely miss him. He volunteered to explore my family history on one of his many trips to Salt Lake City to do research. He brought back a history going back to Germany in 1620! He was also very generous with his time, mentoring others in database administration so that when he decided to retire we had a Lew-trained expert to take his place. His passing is a loss to so many.
Andrew & Maryoris Walsh
My wife and I met Lew and Cathy about 15 years ago, and we really enjoyed stopping by their house once or twice each year and had some nice conversations with them about everything from ancestry, Alabama football, politics, and life in general. Lew will certainly be missed and we’ll be rooting for ‘Bama this year in his memory.