David W. Griffin

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David W. Griffin

David W. Griffin

“Every governor has trusted. So have the people of Oklahoma. Here is a man who knows his job thoroughly; a man of the highest integrity…Dr. Griffin has been good to the people of Oklahoma.”
Edith Johnson, 1944


Dr. David Wilson Griffin was born and raised in North Carolina and attended Rutherford College before graduating from the University College of Medicine in Richmond, Virginia. Especially interested in the study of mental health, Dr. Griffin came to Norman, Oklahoma, in 1895 as the superintendent of the city’s mental hospital. At the time, the hospital was privately owned, sat on only a few acres of land and included a stone building for an office and several small frame cottages for patients. The state paid for patient care on a per capita basis and the dilapidated surroundings included straw mattresses and barely edible food.

However, Dr. Griffin was not deterred and quickly set about reforming the institution. In 1915, Griffin was summoned to the office of the Oklahoma Governor Robert Williams, who told him, “I’ve bought your hospital. Now I want you to stay there and manage it.” One month after Dr. Griffin’s death, the Oklahoma State Senate passed a resolution renaming the complex – Griffin Memorial Hospital.

Fun fact

Some of Dr. Griffin’s earliest memories were the catalyst of his outstanding medical career and visionary leadership in the field of mental health. As a boy, Griffin was stunned to learn about a neighbor child who was often locked in a very small room and fed like an animal.

Oklahoma connections

Griffin was director of mental health facility in Norman, Oklahoma.









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