For the Griffiths, a chance blind date has evolved into a lifetime love story.
On Valentine’s Day Feb. 14, Claude and Joyce celebrate their 71st “diamond” wedding anniversary. Both share a room together at Betsy Ross Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at 1 Elsie St.
With a broad smile, son Claude Griffiths Jr. recalled the story he heard “many times over” growing up.
“My father’s best friend and he were both serving in the Navy, and when they got out, his best friend started dating my mother’s sister, Joan,” Claude Jr. recalled. “One day, his best friend asked if he could borrow his car, and dad said, ‘Sure you can use the car, but you need to get me a date too.’”
It turned out both Joan’s neighbor and her sister — Joyce — were single at the time. But Joan set up the blind date between her sister and Claude and the rest — as they say, is family history.
The couple had been dating for about two years when they tied the knot.
Claude Griffiths built their family home in Taberg, where the couple moved to in 1963.
Griffiths, who will be 92 in June, started his career working as a military guard at the former Griffiss Air Force Base before moving on to work for a number of different oil companies, driving trucks in the Rome area.
Claude Sr. retired from the city yard at the age of 65, but son Claude Jr. said dad always kept busy, even after retirement, doing masonry and carpentry work, and driving truck.
Joyce was a homemaker, and Claude Jr. remembered that she was seemingly always there for him, whether it was preparing family meals, keeping up the family home or even, a number of times, removing splinters from his knees after he crashed his bicycle.
The Griffiths had another son, Jeffrey, who passed away in 2013.
Asked how Claude popped the question and if he got down on one knee, Joyce said, “No, he just asked me, I think.”
Claude Jr. said the proposal most likely happened at a square dance, something the couple greatly enjoyed doing together.
“They were always square dancing — that was their thing,” Claude Jr. smiled.
Claude Sr. proudly donned his New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers’ Association ball cap, which he had been a member of for several years. Both he and Joyce were also members of the Fiddlers board. Headquartered in Redfield, Claude’s photo hangs on the wall at the Fiddlers’ museum.
Claude, who also played fiddle, “was a judge and on the board,” Claude Jr. said.
Over the years, Claude and Joyce shared several special moments and memories, but said they always enjoyed spending time with one another.
“We had a lot of fun together, and wherever there was a dance, we went,” Joyce said proudly.
Asked what the secret was to their long-time love story, Joyce said there really was no secret to it at all.
“He was always good to me,” she said of her husband. “He’d say, ‘What do you want?,’ and we’d go get it.”
“Dad was always a very good provider,” son Claude added.
The Griffiths have three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter on the way.