John Harvey Griffith

Griffith—John Harvey Griffith, 99, on March 27, 2022, in his home in Gladstone, Mo. John was born on December 12, 1922, the second son of Robert Carl Griffith and Bertha Scott Griffith, in Columbia, S.C. He had two brothers, Robert Carl Jr. and William Garrett. John’s father was a Methodist minister. The family lived in seven different towns during John’s youth.

John’s residence in South Carolina ended in 1942 when he was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for refusing to register for conscription. He was a conscientious objector to war and to the concept that the government has the right to conscript its citizens to kill fellow human beings. John was released from prison “unconditionally” after serving 24 months.

After his release, John attended William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where he met Reva Standing. John and Reva were married in 1947. They had four sons, Christopher, Timothy, Jonathan, and Benjamin. All were born in Iowa.

When conscription was reinstated in 1948, John again refused to register. This time the government ignored his civil disobedience.

Reva was a lifelong member of the Religious Society of Friends. John adopted that community as his spiritual home. After Chris was murdered in 1986, John and Reva became vocal advocates for abolition of the death penalty. He and Reva attended Penn Valley Meeting in Kansas City, Mo., for many years.

John leaves us with these words: “As many before have articulated, birth, life, and death are all integral to the natural life process. Also, as many have observed, the residue of our acts lives on in the lives of those we have influenced, producing, as it were, a sort of hand-me-down immortality. Yet I am convinced that there is something more: that human consciousness is independent of the body and that the death of the body is not an ending of consciousness—it is rather a passing. Into what? I confess that I do not know, but I have a deep, abiding trust in the Divine Ground of all existence that the major world religions have variously called God, Mind, Allah, Tao, etc. My parting wish for my friends is that they nurture compassion and walk humbly in the presence of Unfathomable Mystery.”

Reva died in November 2003. Surviving John and Reva are two children, Timothy (Cheri Oehme) and Jordan (Stephanie); six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maximum of 400 words or 2000 characters.

Comments on may be used in the Forum of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.