Garfield Daniel Griffiths, BA
ABGS: pupil 1932-1938, staff 1949-64

 
G D Griffiths, 1957

Garfield Griffiths, in 1957

Garfield Griffiths was born in March 1921 and was brought up living in Belmont Terrace, Aberaman1. He attended Aberaman Boys’ Elementary School prior to entering the Boys’ County School in 1932. He passed his School Certificate with matriculation equivalence in 1936 and the Higher Certificate, 1938, in English, French (with conversational power), and History. He then became a student at University College Cardiff graduating with an honours degree in English in 1941. One month into his Education Diploma year, he interrupted his studies to join the RAF in November 1941. As a result of enemy action he lost his left eye when he was hit by shrapnel whilst he was piloting an RAF biplane. To his great credit he was subsequently able to fly the plane back to his base. After recuperation, he was reassigned to Combined Operations serving in France, partly due to his skills in the French language. On D-day he landed on Omaha Beach with the Americans.

He was demobbed in December 1945, and immediately re-enrolled at Cardiff, and by September 1946 he had gained his teaching diploma.

His first teaching post was at Park Secondary Modern School, Dagenham where he stayed for one year, 1946-47. He then transferred to Bargoed Secondary School for Boys and remained there until December 1948.

His appointment at Aberdare Boys Grammar School commenced in January 1949. During his fifteen years at the school he was promoted to Head of English. He resigned his position, leaving in August 1964.

 

G D Griffiths, 1938

Garfield Griffiths
from the 1938 School Panoramic photo

Whilst teaching at ABGS, Garfield lived at 5 Broniestyn Terrace, next to (Long) Tom Evans at No. 4, enabling their eldest sons sons to become close friends. Garfield was known amongst the boys as ‘Gaffa’ and earned a well-deserved reputation as a teacher who enabled his pupils to cherish and appreciate English Literature as well as to achieve well in examinations. Gaffa was known for the frequent school trips that he organised to various European destinations, often accompanied by his colleague D.D. Davies, (Dai Cube) and, in earlier days, also by David J.G. Hill2. He also looked after the school chess club which flourished in the early 1960s.

In the summer of 1964 the Griffiths family emigrated to Canada. They settled in Ontario when Garfield accepted a post as Head of English at Petrolia District High School. A few years later he transferred to nearby Forest District High School3, as Head of English. After a long period at this school he retired in 1986, after forty years in the classroom.

In his retirement he spent time traveling in Europe, the USA and the Caribbean; he also enjoined gardening and reading. Garfield Griffiths died on 27 March 1999 having enjoyed thirteen years of retirement.

 

Garfield married Jocelyn Mabel Prosser in the autumn of 1942. They raised two sons and two daughters. Sons Gary and Robert both attended ABGS at its Trecynon home. Gary, 1957-64, was deputy Head Boy in his final year, and Robert attended 1960-64. Gary became a police officer in the Ontario Provincial Force retiring in April 2000; he and his wife Gayle now live in Forest. Robert became a school Principal, and he and his wife Linda live in Ottawa. Garfield’s daughters are also resident in Canada: Kay and her husband living in Goderich, Ontario; Margaret and her husband living close by in Clinton. Garfield and Jocelyn had an extensive family, resident not only in Canada but also in the UK. Gary has four children, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren, with one of his children living in the UK.

Garfield’s wife Jocelyn died on 26 July 2010 in Clinton, Ontario. Following cremation in Canada her ashes were brought by the family to Wales where a funeral service was held at St Fagan’s Church in Trecynon on 10 August 2010. Finally, her ashes were then taken to the Swansea area and in a moving ceremony they were scattered over the sea.

 


 

  1. Garfield’s boyhood home at 4 Belmont Terrace was almost next door to his Sports Master, E.J. Excell who lived at No 8, Belmont Terrace.
  2. David Hill taught a variety of subjects on the arts side of the curriculum at ABGS between 1944 and 1955. He left his teaching post at ABGS to become headmaster at Ynyslwyd Secondary School, and was later appointed head at Rhydywaun Secondary Modern School. He died in 1968 at the age of 55. He was a past pupil of the school, 1925-32.
  3. Forest District High School is now called North Lambton Secondary School: http://nlss.lkdsb.net/

Acknowledgements: many thanks to Gary Griffiths for his help in compiling this account of his father’s life.