Woody Funeral Home-Parham

1771 North Parham Road, Richmond, VA


Walter Samuel Griggs, Jr.

October 29, 1940June 30, 2019

Griggs, Walter Samuel, Jr., 78, passed away on Sunday, June 30, 2019.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, on October 29, 1940, he was the son of the late Walter Samuel Griggs, Sr. and Dorothy Louise Feitig Griggs. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Frances Pitchford Griggs; his daughter, Cara Frances Griggs; his brother, the Rev. Dr. Robert Ware Griggs and his wife, Susan Lindberg Griggs; his sister-in-law, Anne Pitchford Bryant; three nephews, Thomas Henry Griggs (Ana Orduz), David Ellsworth Griggs (Amy), and Frank Allen Bryant, Jr. (Sarah); one niece, Kimberly Anne Brownie (Matthew); two great-nieces, Abigail and Megan Bryant; and two great-nephews, Austin and Ryan Brownie.

Higher education was a priority for Walter beginning at the University of Richmond, where he did his undergraduate work and earned his Juris Doctor and Master of Humanities degrees. He also earned a Doctor of Education degree from the College of William and Mary.

Walter began his career at the Virginia State Law Library. After several years, he became a lobbyist for Life Insurers Conference. During this time, the thought of teaching kept coming to his mind, and Walter accepted a position at John Tyler Community College. Several years later, he joined the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business. He taught law, history, and religion courses and served as department chairman and as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies. When Walter retired in 2016 after 45 years, he was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus. During his career, he received several Best Teacher awards. Walter’s legacy was his students, who often kept in touch with him.

Walter was the author of a biography of Brig.-Gen. John Pegram, 7 books on Richmond history, and 3 books about moose. He also wrote occasional Op/Ed columns for The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The family will receive friends on Saturday, July 13, 2019, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Parham Chapel of Woody Funeral Home. Services will be held on Sunday, July 14 at 3:00 p.m. at Cannon Memorial Chapel at the University of Richmond. Donations may be made to Virginia Commonwealth University or the University of Richmond.

Condolences may be conveyed to the family by scrolling down and clicking the "Add a Memory" button on the left.


  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • University of Richmond


  • Visitation Saturday, July 13, 2019
  • Memorial Service Sunday, July 14, 2019


Walter Samuel Griggs, Jr.

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Gail Powell

July 13, 2019

Walter, was a friend from our undergraduate days at the U of R, where we debated together. Walter was one of those few people whom I experienced as always positive, always kind ands thoughtful of others, with an amazing range of interests and an impressive knowledge about all of those interests. I found his interest in moose the most delightful and tried, without success, to persuade him to research the supposed release of moose in New Zealand, so that I could accompany him tramping through the mountains of Fiordland in southwest South Island.

Rannie Brown (formerly Williams)

July 11, 2019

Dr. Griggs was my advisor at VCU. I greatly appreciated his time and efforts during my studies at the University.

My deepest sympathies to Frances and Cara.

Rannie Brown
(Formerly, Rannie Williams)

Erin Lowery

July 11, 2019

I used to work at VCU's Career Center and sometimes saw students at the School of Business right next door to Dr. Griggs's office. My conversations with him were always memorable and enjoyable. He was always thoughtful, funny, charming, and interesting. He used to visit my colleague and friend Beth Chancy and I at UR and once brought me two of his books after I expressed interest in the Church Hill Tunnel. I came away from every conversation with him having learned something. He had a unique ability to make an impact though every even small interaction he had with anyone. What an incredible thing. I feel so fortunate to have known him. He will be missed.

Carolyn Whitworth Brittain

July 9, 2019

Walter claimed me as his oldest friend—that is, in length of friendship. We started Ginter Park School together in the fall of 1946 and graduated from TJHS in June 1959. There were others who followed this path, but he felt I was the only one with whom he kept up the friendship from then until just before his final illness. While college took us in different directions we still remained friends. Then in more recent years we were in contact more often. I’ve said he was my Google before there was Google. I remember talking with my husband one day, naming diseases prevalent in our childhood. We discussed scarlet fever, wondering why it was no longer a problem. What to do? Cal Walter and ask him. I have so many memories of him from years ago including from 5th grade with our teacher Miss Moore, when we studied explorers and he wrote this poem: “Balboa walked in the door, saw Miss Moore, fell through the floor, and that was the end of poor Balboa.” In recent years I’ve loved the books he wrote about Richmond and moose and helped him by proofreading a couple of them. I was no more merciful than he said I was in school when we corrected each other’s work. He claimed the red marks I made on his papers were what drove him to succeed as an author. He was a unique, spiritual person with a great sense of humor. He saw the ridiculous in life and would often tell me about it. I will miss his calls and emails and seeing him from time to time. A treasured part of my life is gone. Rest In Peace, Walter. Hope there will be some Mickey Mouse ears you can wear in heaven for special occasions.

Diane Ratcliffe

July 9, 2019

I have known this fine man for a long time. We have laughed at each other’s jokes and smiled at each other when we were down. I have always marveled at his beautiful relationship with his wife Frances, I will miss him and so will my staff, we were all very sad to hear of his passing. Love and prayers to you all.

Janice Lohmann

July 9, 2019

Mr. Griggs was the best teacher I ever had! He taught my Business Law class at VCU and I will never forget him. It was always a pleasure to see him at the Richmond Octoberfest as well. I never thought I would meet someone else who shared my love of moose! It was an honor to know him and I learned so much from him. What a GREAT guy.... Rest in Peace, Mr. Griggs!

Lori Falstich

July 9, 2019

I worked for Dr. Griggs in the School of Business at VCU. He was warm and welcoming from day one, and led the department with integrity and a sense of humor! He was certainly one of my favorite bosses and after I moved from VA back to PA, we still kept in touch on Facebook and with Christmas cards. Before I left, he gifted me with one of his moose books and a wooden moose Christmas ornament that still hangs on my tree. He was a great man and I, among many, will never forget him! I know the Lord is welcoming him with open arms! RIP

Penny Saxton

July 8, 2019

Dean Griggs is one of my favorite memories of my “fine VCU education” as he called it. I would affectionately describe him to others as a cross between Albert Einstein and Foghorn Leghorn. His love of moose and the Titanic were legendary. I was so fortunate to be a student as an adult. My husband, daughter and I would often see the Griggs family at Casa Grande after church on Sundays. We would visit and catch up. I always knew he was as proud of me as anyone I’d known. He once told my husband, “It is a pleasure having your wife in my class.” The pleasure was all mine Dean Griggs - I know you were met in Heaven with a “Well done my good and faithful servant” from God. See you there some sweet day. May your family find comfort knowing how loved you are.

Jay Ackerman

July 8, 2019

Walter was truly an amazing man. I’ve known him for many years working at yardbirds and always was excited to see him and his family pull up to the shop. Every time he left I had always learned something new. He will be greatly missed

Lt. Duck Rollison

July 7, 2019

Dr. Griggs was a great friend to Henrico Fire. He and Cara would stop by station 9 , we had great talks and looked forward to his visits.