Butler basketball family loses popular fan Durwin Griggs to COVID-19 | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly
INDIANAPOLIS – Durwin Griggs was devoted to the Dawgs before it was trendy.
In the late 1980s, Butler had 15 paying season ticket-holders for basketball. He was one of them.
He was there for the depths of the 6-20 season in 1988-89, and for the heights of NCAA championship games in 2010 and 2011. He attended games at Hinkle Fieldhouse during the recent pandemic season and was an usher at Clowes Memorial Hall.
“He loved Butler. He loved everything about it,” said Brandon Cooper, who was Griggs’ companion of 17 years.
After a two-month struggle with COVID-19, Griggs died March 3. He was 71.
In his final days, a basketball signed by all the players on Butler’s 2020-21 team was delivered to his hospital room. Through Facetime, he heard hymns sung by Danielle Hartman, minister of music at Central Christian Church, where Griggs belonged to the choir.
“He was devoted to the choir and to the food pantry and the thrift store at the church,” Hartman said. “In fact, he even took a year off from the choir to devote time to that. Then he missed it too much and had to come back to choir.”
Griggs was faithful about rehearsals. Well, mostly.
“If there was Butler game on Thursday night,” Hartman said, “I was in trouble.”
Griggs was born May 5, 1949, in Pittsboro. He spent four decades employed by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance.
What most surprised his Butler colleagues is that he did not attend or graduate from Butler. He is an IUPUI graduate.
“He literally was going to everything. And I knew he wasn’t some well-heeled donor,” said Maribeth Fischer, wife of Thomas Fischer, a member of Butler’s board of trustees and an orthopedic surgeon for the team.
Butler:Players are staying instead of going. What seniors returning means for Dawgs
Griggs traveled to New Orleans for the 2011 NCAA Southeast Regional, where the Bulldogs upset Florida in overtime for a repeat trip to the Final Four. Another friend, Butler graduate Jim Funk, said he and his wife regularly saw Griggs on the road — at Big East tournaments in New York and the November 2018 tournament at Portland, Ore.
Before that, Griggs was among those riding fan buses. One left Indianapolis at 11 p.m. for a drive straight through to Albany, N.Y., for the 2003 NCAA East Regional. Sally Wirthwein, a Butler graduate and Hinkle Fieldhouse historian, said such trips became like a family vacation.
“There were times like that where you would travel together,” she said. “There were always people you could count on.
“We talk a lot about the Butler family. It was really like that. Even though he (Griggs) didn’t go to Butler, he was very much a part of the Butler family. He had a big smile. He was always happy to be wherever he was.”
Bulldogs:New book chronicles how Butler (and Gonzaga) used hoops to improve universities
Griggs was preceded in death by his parents, Lester and Mildred Griggs. Plans for a celebration of life are pending.
Memorial gifts can be made by going to the Butler Giving homepage: https://www.butler.edu/gifts. Checks, with a note that the gift is in Griggs’ memory, may be mailed to Butler University, 4600 Sunset Ave., Indianapolis, 46208, attention: Graham Honaker.
Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.