Phyllis Griffin, of Granger, Indiana

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015

May 4, 1924 — June 12, 2015

Phyllis V. (Martin) Griffin, 91, of Granger, passed away at Harbor Light Hospice on Friday, June 12, 2015.

Phyllis was born on May 4, 1924, to the late Anthony J. and Pauline M. (Pendl) Martin in Mishawaka, Indiana.

She attended grade schools in Indiana and Michigan and graduated from Niles High School in 1942. She then spent four years as a book keeper with the Community Finance Company in Niles.

Phyllis Griffin

Phyllis Griffin

Before preparing for mission work she assisted her father, Anthony Martin, who was the pastor of Coulter’s Chapel Church of God in Niles. She then attended Marion College in Marion Indiana and graduated from Ministers and Missionaries Training School in Plymouth, Indiana in 1950. Later, while residing in Cuba, she studied translation at the Havana Business University.

Shortly after graduation from bible college she spent two years assisting a congregation in the mountains of North Carolina at Altapass, of which she always had fond memories. After being ordained as a minister of the Church of God her work took her to Havana, Cuba in 1952; where she remained all through the Castro revolution. She witnessed the fall of former presidents Prio and Batista. She resided in Havana with the beloved Sister Faith Stewart at the El Hogar Children’s Home. Mission work took them throughout the island on many occasions.

Upon Sister Stewart’s death it was necessary for Phyllis to become the Superintendent of the mission work they had so lovingly nurtured. She remained at that post until 1960 when certain conditions in Cuba made it necessary for her to return to the United States to procure financial assistance for the ministers on the island.

Her next move took her to Tampa, Florida to be close to Cuba after receiving her license to send funds to the island. A Christian Day School was started which included many Cuban refugees as well as children from several other countries; in due time services were begun in English and Spanish. Brother and Sister Antonio Figuero and their children Alex and Anna came from Cuba to assume the responsibility of the Spanish work in 1962.

In 1963 Brother and Sister Harold Barber came from Essex, Maryland to pastor the English work. During this time Phyllis served as director of the school and assistant to Brother Barber. When ill health forced him to resign in 1978 she became pastor until her resignation in 1989. This also completed her service of 28 years as secretary and treasurer of the church.

In 1989 Zephyrhills, Florida became her home and there she began home and nursing home bible studies. Over the span of her life she made a number of visits back to Cuba.

On March 6, 1993, at her home congregation in Niles she wed Eugene Griffin of Tampa, Florida where she remained a member until her passing.

Sister Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Eugene in 2011; stepson Jerry Griffin; brother Burnell “Bunny” Martin and nephew Timothy Martin.

She is survived by her step-children, Duane (Robin) Griffin of Temple Terrace , Florida, and Alma Lay of Biloxi, Mississippi; Step-daughter-in-law Sandra French, Odessa, Florida, three step grandchildren; Richard and Krista (Greg) Hartley of Tampa, Florida and Lisa Lay of Biloxi, Mississippi siblings Paula (Norman) Connell of Niles, Michigan, James (Eleanor) Martin of Pokagon, Michigan; sister-in-law Sandy Martin of Dowagiac, Michigan; and nieces and nephews Sherry (Brian) English of South Bend, Indiana, Sandra (Gary) Blackburn of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Larry (Millie) Martin of Niles, Michigan, Debbie (Gary) Swain of Buchanan, Michigan, Gregory Martin of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Kevin (Melissa) Martin of Niles, Michigan as well as a host of great-nieces and great-nephews.

Funeral services to honor Sister Phyllis’ amazing life will be held Friday, June 19, 2015, at Coulter’s Chapel Church of God in Niles at 11:30 a.m. Visitation will be one hour prior to her funeral service and committal service to be held at Coulter’s Chapel Cemetery.

Those wishing to make memorial donations in Sister Phyllis’ name may do so to Home of Foreign Missions located at Church of God Spanish Mission 8331 S.W.14th, Miami, Florida 33144.

Condolences may be left for the family at

Arrangements have been entrusted to Brown Funeral Home, Niles.