James “Jim” Griffin, a former publisher for the Clovis News Journal, died Monday at his home in Clovis. He was 75.
Griffin led the paper for about 15 years in the 1970s and 1980s.
One friend called him a man of the people, comfortable around big crowds, and able to take a joke.
However, Griffin’s newspaper career ended in 1990 when he pleaded guilty to embezzling large sums of cash from the CNJ.
A plea agreement showed questionable expenditures of more than $500,000, news reports show. Griffin was sentenced to two years in state prison, with seven years suspended.
Despite his legal troubles, longtime friend Phil Millender said Griffin maintained a friendly demeanor.
“It was rough on him, it was terrible,” Millender said Tuesday night. “It was just a sad, sad time. But on the outside he just carried on with life, and was just as jovial as he could be.”
Millender said his friend never talked to him much about the legal issues, but they would often talk politics while taking time off fishing.
“He was very interested in local politics,” Millender said. “He’d never met a stranger in his life.”
Millender called his friend a “joyous kind of guy,” who in the end really loved the newspaper.
After he left his post as publisher, Griffin drove a gravel truck for about eight years until his health started failing him, Millender said.