C/D's Larry Griffin Passes Away

April 2, 2008


It's a little belatedly that we report the passing of a colleague of ours, Larry Griffin. Larry was a longtime editor at Car and Driver, an ephemeral presence with a loose tether to anything but an interstate highway and a Mobil gas card and his prized handmade horse saddles. Above all, he was a great photographer and contributed many stories to the magazine.

He was also known as Landfill Larry, because when he kept an office at 2002 Hogback Road, it required tetanus shots and permission from FEMA directors to step inside among the piles of press kits, old faxes and racing gear.

Try though I might, I couldn't find a picture of Larry in my personal archives. He was always behind the lens instead, like during a dawn-to-dusk cover shoot for Car and Driver back in 1995, in the awesome shadows of Utah's Monument Valley.

So to go with this blog, I chose a picture of Grand Teton in Wyoming. Larry loved Wyoming and Montana, and nearly every time I saw him he was returning from, or preparing for, a trip to the Yellowstone area, to Les Kellem's saddle shop outside the park's north entrance, where he had friends. For years, the front office at Car and Driver wore his photos of the park -- one, a stunning mural-sized piece of a Montana highway snowed over with yellow spring flowers.

Even those of us who worked with him knew little about him and that was how Larry liked it. A few years ago, in my book on Car and Driver's first 50 years, I chose Larry's story of taking a Porsche race car to his high-school reunion as one of the pinnacles of the magazine's history -- because it showed a side of Larry almost none of us knew. (He's standing right, bearded, in this photo from the story.)

Larry died in a nursing home in Lawrence, Kansas, on the 18th of March. Friends at Car and Driver think he was 63 years old. He had struggled with mental illness for the past few years and died in the care of the state of Kansas, leaving behind only a 90-year-old aunt, never having married or had children.

The C/D staff has gotten together to commemorate Larry with a stone placed next to that at his mother's grave in Kansas. If you are interested in making a monetary donation to help pay for the headstone, email and we'll put you in touch with them.

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