James "Jimmy" Griffin, 73, of Belford passed away on the evening of February 20th, surrounded by his loving family and his dog Willa at Riverview Hospital in Red Bank, from an 11 year battle with colon cancer. Jimmy was born in "Hell's Kitchen" in Manhattan, NY, and as a small child moved to Fairview, and then West New York, New Jersey. He moved to Middletown when he was 12. Jimmy was a stand-out athlete at Middletown High School, lettering in football, basketball, and baseball. He will be inducted into the Middletown North Lions Hall of Fame posthumously this May. Jimmy attended Yankton College in Yankton, SD (now a federal prison, imagine that), where he was a 4 year starter on the Greyhounds baseball team. Lyle Alzado was his roommate, but got away from Jimmy by playing in the NFL. Jimmy also played semi-pro baseball for the St. Cloud Lakers, St. Cloud, MN. Jimmy graduated Yankton in 1971 with a degree in Physical Education. He was a Phys. Ed teacher at Keansburg High School as well as Thorne Junior HS in Middletown. Jimmy was hired as a Middletown Township police officer in 1973. He worked in the Community Relations Division as well as serving as a Detective, until he retired in 1984 with a service connected injury. He played in the PBA 124 softball team as well as other recreational softball teams, including the renowned Stafford Tire team. Jimmy opened Griffin's Deli in Belford after he retired, where he claims to have served the best muffins in town, as well as the best breakfast deals. He served up good food, sarcasm, and humor, all under one roof. He also was able to overcome his injuries and return to the Middletown Police Department in 1993. On his "second career" as a Middletown police officer, he served in the patrol and traffic and safety division, until he was appointed Middletown's first full-time Rangemaster in 2000. As Rangemaster, Jimmy upgraded the police firearms range to a year round facility, and was in charge of scheduling local, county, state and federal firearms qualifications and training sessions. He was an excellent instructor, and developed friendships throughout New Jersey and beyond. Immediately after 9/11, Jimmy hosted qualifications US Navy stationed at Naval Weapons Station Earle to ensure mission readiness for the new war on terror. Jimmy's epic BBQ's during breaks in training were well received, however, his Griffin's St. Paddy's Day Bashes were legendary. He and his mother in law would cook 100lbs of corned beef, plus trimmings and dessert for whoever wanted to attend. He paid for all of this out of his own pocket, and got so much joy doing so. If you were lucky enough, you received a coveted Griffin's Bash sweatshirt, or a police range t-shirt. Others may have received a precision screwdriver or a pen. Jimmy was a 30 year member of the Shore Umpire's Association, and umpired probably over 1,000 high school baseball and softball games in the Shore Conference. He received many accolades during his tenure for his integrity on the field. Jimmy retired on June 30, 2011. He enjoyed his October trips to South Dakota to pheasant hunt with lifelong friends (for over 40 years), local pheasant hunts, hiking, biking, motorcycles, gardening, spending time with his family and his beloved fur babies.
Jimmy was diagnosed with colon cancer in the fall of 2009, and beat it. He was in an horrific motorcycle crash in August of 2014, and lost his left leg below the knee. He had a 5 percent chance of surviving, and beat the odds. His goal was to return to umpiring by the spring, and he did. This after multiple surgeries to repair broken bones and mastering the use of a prosthetic leg. Jimmy was diagnosed with metastasized colon cancer in November of 2016. He had surgery and beat the disease again. Notice a pattern here? Jimmy Griffin apparently had 9 lives. He was diagnosed again with metastasized colon cancer in May of 2018. This time, there was no cure, only treatment. The oncologist gave him 2 - 3 years. And Jimmy fought yet another battle. We thought he could beat it, but the cancer had other ideas. The last few months took their toll on him. He fell and broke his hip last September, and healed from that, but was starting to feel more and more tired, although he didn't let on. Recently, the cancer grew beyond even the oncologist's estimation, and even the mighty Jimmy Griffin couldn't beat this round. He died on his terms, in his sleep, after planning his own Irish funeral.
Jimmy is pre-deceased by his beloved grandmother, Julia Lawless, his favorite aunt, Rose Bosch, his mother, Julia Regan, and his mother in law, Marie Moore.
Jimmy is survived by his wife Lisa, his father, James Regan (95), his father in law, Bob Moore, his sisters and brothers; Julie (Pat) Corbisiero, John (Kathy) Regan, Kathleen Leeny (Dave Walsh) , Patrick (Anne) Regan, Tommy Regan, Joseph Kreisberg, and Trish Regan; his nieces and nephews, Stefanie, Sara, Blaine, Jake and Jolie, and his great niece and nephew, Julia and Ethan. He is also survived by his fur babies, Rudy, Dakota, Willa, Holly and Noel, and countless friends. As far as Jimmy was concerned, a stranger was a friend he hadn't met.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to a charity of your choice - or Middletown PBA 124, or even better, to a cancer charity. Just make sure the cancer charity does something to help cancer patients and survivors with comfort items, not one that fuels corporate greed.
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