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K-State Today

October 25, 2011

Bleeding purple for four generations

Submitted by Andrew Zender

William Griffing, Sr., graduated from K-State in 1944 and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves. He retired from the reserves 10 years later as a captain.

For many, K-State is a home away from home. For William "Bill" J. Griffing, K-State was home.

Born and raised in Manhattan, Griffing never forgot about his beloved alma mater, even after he built a career outside of Kansas. Following his graduation from the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1944, he took off for Bremen, Ind., where he operated a large-animal veterinary practice for 15 years before returning to Manhattan in 1959 to pursue additional degrees at K-State.

By this time, he had met and married his love, Anna (Moore) Griffing, and they had four children. He earned his master's degree in one year, and three years later he graduated from K-State again with a doctorate in pathology. Shortly thereafter, the family relocated back to Indiana when Griffing took a position with Eli Lilly and Company, a global pharmaceutical firm, where he worked until his retirement.

Griffing passed away in May 2011, but he has been forever memorialized by his wife Anna with the establishment of the Dr. William J. Griffing Graduate Excellence Fund, which supports graduate students in the College of Veterinary Medicine at K-State.

Griffing's youngest son, William "Bill" Griffing Jr. — a 1975 graduate of K-State — recently shared reflections with the Kansas State University Foundation on his family's connection to K-State and his father's life, which shows that a person may leave their home, but their home never leaves their heart.

What kind of impact has K-State had on you and your family?
We've been bleeding purple for four generations. My great-grandfather came to Manhattan in the 1870s and graduated from K-State in the early 1880s. My grandfather attended K-State during the World War I era. My father represented the third generation, and I'm the fourth.

He loved everything about K-State and even listened to the football games on the radio when we lived in Indiana. My siblings and I all lived in Manhattan when he was in graduate school, and it holds a special place in our hearts. K-State has always meant a lot to our family.

Why is this program important to you?
The College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the oldest, most prestigious programs in the nation. Because of our deep history with K-State, our father's career and our family's interest in education, we want to help support students in Kansas, enable them to attend such a great school and have the same experience as our family.

Talk about the experience of creating the award to honor your father.
It's been a very rewarding experience. When my father passed in May, my mother wanted to do something for K-State in his honor. Ralph Richardson was a huge help. Our families were close when we lived in Manhattan — we had dinners together on Sundays. He said that he was motivated by my father to go to veterinary school and get his degree — and now he's the dean of the college here at K-State.

These types of arrangements — endowed scholarships — are wonderful because they're not just a one-time gift — you can see how they provide continuous support. It's a gift that keeps giving.