“He died doing what he loved,” can truly be said of this pharmacist who suffered a heart attack at the place he loved best.
Griffin Wakefield, who would have been 85 on December 28, died December 24, 2010, at his Biddleville Pharmacy on Beatties Ford Road at Booker Avenue. He had been at that location, about a block from the legendary Excelsior Club, for about 15 years.
He had been located in one store or another since 1961. His original pharmacy was torn down about 1995, when Beatties Ford Road and Oaklawn Avenue were widened. He had also owned Dalebrook Pharmacy on Beatties Ford and Plaza Apothecary in the Bob Walton Building.
A native of Pickens County, S.C., Griffin did a Navy stint from 1944 to 1946, and then earned his R.Ph degree from Xavier University of Louisiana School of Pharmacy. He was a pharmacy representative in Oxford, N.C., in 1957 when he met social worker Elsie Walton at Mrs. Henderson’s boarding house, where both ate. “This was before he opened his first drug store,” Elsie recalled.
I called him ‘Honey”
They were married October 19, 1958, and added son Alfred Keith and daughter Alecia to the family. When she was a toddler, Alecia Wakefield-Pittman said, “I would not call him ‘Daddy.’ If Mama called him ‘Honey,’ I called him ‘Honey.’ Mom gave him the nickname “Butch,” but when she called him ‘Butch,’ I didn’t like it, so I called him ‘Daddy.’ ”
Griffin and Elsie did everything together, their daughter said. “They were soul mates, best friends and worked together. Mama called him her ‘boyfriend.’
“He came from a family of service,” Alecia said, “and if you knew anything about Daddy, you knew he was humble, self-made and always put everybody’s needs before his own. He believed in hard work and put service to God first, and service to others second.”
Griffin was a long-time member of First United Presbyterian Church, where his funeral was held.
Griffin was a friend of Dr. Charles James, who started practice in the early 1940s near Johnson C. Smith University. “I knew him for 50 years,” the doctor said. “We played tennis together and fished together a lot. Wednesday morning was our day off, so we played tennis. We fished mostly in rivers and creeks, three or four times a year.”
Griffin also loved to play golf. “He was good,” his daughter said. She also recalled one of her dad’s special potions that he mixed up if anyone in the family had an upset stomach or had eaten too much junk food. “It was molasses and sulphur, and cleaned us out like a homemade laxative.”
Alfreda Richardson said that “Doc” was good to her family. “I did not know until today when I came by the store and saw the sign in the door,” she said. “We will truly miss him.”
“I remember the doctor as being a quiet, gentle spirit and that he loved his family deeply,” wrote Gail Deavers-Reed in his online guest book.
There is no doubt about that, just as there is no doubt that Griffin Wakefield was appreciated and beloved by many.
Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them.
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