Dave Griffiths: Making the World His Own
It’s not unusual to see a world map hanging on the wall in someone’s home. But the large one displayed on the living room wall of Dave Griffiths’ Davidson condo is more distinguished than most.
Griffiths’ world map is punctured with dozens of small red pins indicating the countries he has visited in the past two decades. There are also a scattering of green pins representing intended journeys in the future.
This 1973 Davidson College graduate and longtime New Jersey school teacher and administrator has visited 68 countries since 2001, when he received a Fulbright Memorial Fund scholarship for a three week group tour of Japan. The experience was fascinating. “Travel is exciting. You meet interesting people,” he said.
At the height of his travel-mania, Griffiths was making up to four guided trips a year through the “Road Scholar” and “Overseas Adventure” Travel companies.
While most people leave their vacations behind when they pick up their baggage at the “Arrivals” gate, Griffiths has turned his trips into teaching resources by assembling elaborate loose-leaf binders about his experiences that he enjoys sharing with others. Each of the 30 or so binders he has created includes his personal reflections about the trip, narratives about the country’s history, and souvenirs such as post cards and photos, restaurant menus, and travel itineraries.
It took Griffiths a solid week to assemble material and lay out each new volume, but students and fellow administrators at Ewing High School, where he taught for 20 years, eagerly anticipated each new edition.
Griffiths grew up and spent most of his life as an athlete, scholar and educator in Ewing. He was such an outstanding wrestler, baseball catcher, and football player that he was elected into the inaugural Ewing High Hall of Fame in 2002.
He was recruited to Davidson for baseball, and a general scholarship attracted him to enroll as an undergraduate. He played two seasons before deciding that the sport demanded so much time that he was missing out on other aspects of college life.
He graduated with a major in psychology and accepted his first teaching position the following year in Yardley, Pennsylvania. He taught there 11 years, then decided to try out the world of commerce and managed several Sears Roebuck stores for five years. In 1990, he returned to the world of academe and accepted a job at his alma mater, Ewing High. That was his career for the next 23 years, involving him in all aspects of school life, from teaching to coaching to coordinating the senior learning experience. He also served on the strategic planning committee, planned proms, escorted field trips, and raised funds as a class advisor.
He retired in 2013, and three years later made a quick decision to retire to Davidson. He liked the small town charm and resources, and was in contact with a local realtor. When a good deal on a condo on Cotton Gin Alley came up, Dave put in a bid that the seller accepted, and ended up purchasing it sight unseen!
In typical Dave Griffiths style, he has immersed himself in town life. He studied town governance as a participant in Civics 101, has taken courses in Davidson Learns, and volunteers at the Ada Jenkins Center and Davidson Village Network. You’ll also find him faithfully every week just a few paces away from his home, helping cultivate the Community Garden.
Knee and hip surgeries resulting from years of punishing athletics have slowed him down, and he’s measuring the infirmity against his determination to put a few more pins into his wall map and maybe assemble a final travelogue scrapbook. He’s already bought his ticket for trips relatively close to home for the rest of this year—Newfoundland and Labrador, California to see the redwoods, and a paddlewheel boat ride up the Mississippi.
He’s also planning a river cruise in Belgium and Germany for 2019, but hasn’t settled on anything beyond that. Don’t count him out, though! He knows better than most that it’s a wide, wonderful world out there, and he’s lucky to be learning all about it!
Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.