Public health pioneer William Griffiths, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus, dies at age 85

By Kathleen Scalise

BERKELEY -- William Griffiths, influential in developing public health and family planning programs in the U.S. and abroad, died peacefully at his home in El Cerrito on Sunday, March 22, surrounded by his wife and four children. He was 85 years old.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Griffiths completed wartime service as executive officer and chief psychologist at Fort Lewis, Washington. He then earned his doctorate at the University of Minnesota in 1950 and joined the Berkeley faculty in 1951.

Over the course of his career, Griffiths played a vital role in building the School of Public Health's Health Education Program at UC Berkeley and was advisor and mentor to generations of international students.

He published numerous articles and two books on public health education and family planning. Additionally, he was president of the Society for Public Health Education, chairman of the California Division of the American Cancer Society, and chairman and founder of the National Center for Health Education. His expertise was tapped for many domestic as well as third world public health projects.

Among his awards, Griffiths counts a UC Berkeley Citation and repeated honors for contributions to the National Board of the American Cancer Society.

Griffiths is survived by his wife of 58 years, Sylvie R. Griffiths, four children and eight grandchildren. His children are Clare McKenzie of Austin, Texas; Kathy Farley of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Roland of Baltimore, Maryland; and Mark of Los Angeles, California.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 18 at All Souls Episcopal Church, 2220 Cedar St. in Berkeley. Friends are invited to donate in his name to UC Berkeley's School of Public Health or to a favorite charity.

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