Former Arkansas Gazette reporter and later independent journalist Carol Griffee died last night in hospice, we just learned from an e-mail from historian Michael Dougan. He writes:
Carol Griffee, one of the state’s finest journalists and a pillar of integrity, died in hospice in Little Rock on Monday at 7:00 pm. Carol served as the editor for Arkansas Odyssey, and besides her rigorous attention to detail she was a mine of information about Arkansas affairs of all sorts, but especially business and environmental. She was the author of the Game and Fish Commission’s history but because of changes made of which she did not approve she would not allow her name to be used on the title page. Long a feature on AETN’s “Arkansas Week” program, she had the endearing quality of being irascible and led her life fully to the end as a truly independent journalist. She will be missed by all those who value integrity and the highest values of a free press.
“The Grif” was all business — she recently called Max to matter-of-factly inform him that she was dying and was putting her affairs in order — and in addition to her memorable work on the Vertac plant in Jacksonville and other environmental stories, colleagues remember her labors covering murderess Mary Lee Orsini. In her Gazette Project interview, Griffee told interviewer Michael Haddigan that she “should never have been involved in covering” the Orsini case. “It just made a total nervous wreck out of me. I [laughs] nearly lost it a couple of times.”
An excerpt from the Gazette Project interview on the Orsini case:
MH: Well, I want to make sure I ask you this question. There’s an often-told story about you coming to work and walking across the parking lot with a shotgun.
MH: What was that about?
CG: I carried a double-barreled shotgun.
MH: Was that . . .?
CG: I was being watched. No, this was just during the McArthur thing.
CG: I was being watched, and I knew it.
MH: Who was watching you?
CG: I have a feeling it was Orsini, but I don’t really know for sure. But I was quite aware of it. Not only that, but there was one day when John Woodruff had to come to the house to get me out of my house, that’s how scared I was! [Laughs]
I don’t yet have information on arrangements yet; will update when I do.