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Griffin named to Parks Department's Wall of Fame

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Joining Coach Andy Griffin, who was honored by the Hendersonville Parks Board on Monday, were (L-R) his son Justin, wife Karen, daughter Jessica and granddaughter Kennedi. TENA LEE
Ward 4 Alderman and HHS coach Andy Gilley (left) and former Hendersonville Parks Director Dave LeMarbre were on hand to honor Coach Andy Griffin at a ceremony at City Hall on Monday. TENA LEE

A retired Hendersonville High School coach who grew up playing on the city's grid irons and diamonds was recognized Monday for his decades of service to the city's parks department.

Andy Griffin's name was the latest to be added to the Hendersonville Parks and Recreation Department's Wall of Fame - an honor bestowed to a little more than 65 volunteers since 1986.

Parks Director Brandon Rogers, joined by former parks director Dave LeMarbre and Ward 4 Alderman Andy Gilley, made the presentation following the Aug. 28 parks board meeting.

"Andy's very deserving," said Rogers. "He always had his heart in the right place."

Griffin served on the Hendersonville Parks Board for 15 years from 2001-2016, and was elected that body's chairman twice.

"Even though he was a bit brash - a little rough around the edges," said LeMarbre, "he always wanted what was best for the parks department and Hendersonville as a whole."

In the late 1980's Griffin - a teacher and coach at HHs for 31 years - helped start the city's first fastpitch softball league. In the late 1990's he gathered students to help complete the old Kids Kingdom playground. When a flood devastated the city's parks in 2010, he helped organize groups to clean up the debris.

A 1976 graduate of Hendersonville High School, Griffin recalled how he's seen the city's parks system grow from "basically two fields" to a system that includes five city parks in the more than 30 years he has played, coached and umpired sports that include baseball, softball, football and basketball.

"The parks have come a million miles," he said. "I can remember when we were lucky to get enough people here to have a meeting. Now it's a well-oiled machine."

Griffin thanked his wife Karen for her support over the years, as well as former parks department employee Steve "Chick" Crandell. The two started the city's fast-pitch softball league years ago and also coached softball together.

Griffin also joked about his "brash" reputation.

"I did make people mad," he said, eliciting laughs and nods from those in attendance. "I did make the decisions not for me but for the community. And I appreciate all of you that made it happen."

Gilley, who coaches Hendersonville High School's golf and baseball teams, read a certificate of recognition signed by Mayor Jamie Clary.

"Coach Griffin is a pillar of our community - a pillar of our school," Gilley added. "We need more people like you. This is well-deserved."

The Wall of Fame recognizes those who have volunteered their time and leadership skills to one or more of the youth sports programs sponsored by the city's parks department.

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