Franklin Delahanty “Frank” Griffith, of Madisonville, passed away at 12:20 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, at Sweetwater Hospital. He was born in 1937 in a house on Stinnett Road in Madisonville, and lived there until his death.
He started “primer” as he called it as a 6 year old, didn’t like it, walked back home from Brakebill School in the Hopewell Community, and said he wasn’t going back, and didn’t, until the next year when he had friends to walk with to school! He graduated from Madisonville High School in 1957, and played football. He loved every minute of his high school days. He attended Hiwassee College for two years, and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1961, with teacher certification in math.
He began teaching math at Madisonville High School in the fall of 1961, and was shortly thereafter called to active duty in the Air National Guard, going to Germany during the Berlin Crisis. He returned to his teaching job at MHS and helped coach football and junior high basketball.
In the fall of 1966 he became principal at MHS. He served as principal until the fall of 1976, when he chose to go back to the classroom teaching algebra, where he felt most at home.
Students recall on his wall Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun.” That was Frank’s way of saying it is a time for math and nothing else!!
He retired from teaching in 1993, after 32 years of complete dedication to Madisonville High School.
He was a life-time UT football ticket holder, in later years buying his tickets just to give away to his buddies.
Besides teaching, coaching, and seldom missing any sporting event at MHS and later Sequoyah, Frank loved the outdoors. Farming, mowing hay, and looking after his cattle was his relaxation. He loved boating and skiing in the summers on Tellico Lake--giving many ski rides to anyone that wanted time on the water. He later sold the boat and bought a walking horse, his all-time favorite, Barron! He rode all over the mountains, and loved nothing better than to cut his own trail down a mountain ravine just to see where it led.
He was a long-time member of Hopewell Springs Baptist Church, and was often seen with his bush hog and weed-eater cleaning up the cemetery.
Frank will be most remembered for his stand-up nature, honesty, and his loyalty to his family, school, and community. Everyone respected Frank Griffith, lovingly known to his earlier students as “Bullwhup Griffith.” Everyone who knew Frank has a “Frank Story.” A unique man who lived life on his own terms, he left a giant footprint on the students that knew him, and a small footprint on the Earth he loved, living simply and frugally, content on his family home and farm.
He was 81 years old.
Preceded in death by: his parents, Johnny Griffith and Sina Mae Saffles Griffith Rhea; aunts and uncles on his mother’s side, Mildred Saffles, Roxie and Bill Harrill, Harless and Georgia Saffles, Doc and Polly Saffles, Dan and Vivian Saffles, Willie and Kenneth Kirksey, Emaline and R.V. Nation; aunts and uncles on his father’s side, Richard Griffith, Mayme and John Fitzgerald, Elisha and Sylvia Griffith, Byrdie and Henry Wynn, Bill and Jenny Griffith, Albert and Margaret Griffith, Bonnie S. and Willie Mae Griffith, Harry and Thelma Griffith, Joe Hudon and Gertrude Griffith.
Survivors include: his brother, James Richard (Dick) Griffith, of Sweetwater;
A host of cousins.
The family received friends from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 2019, at Biereley-Hale Funeral Home in Madisonville. The funeral followed at 1 p.m. in Biereley-Hale Chapel, with Pastor Mike Williams officiating. Interment in Hopewell Springs Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to Hopewell Springs Cemetery Fund, 1607 Povo Road, Madisonville, TN 37354.