APR 06, 2021
Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School alumni have partnered with the RFH Education Foundation to memorialize George Giffin, a Biology teacher, educational leader, advisor, mentor and friend, who inspired Bulldogs for 35 years and made his mark in the community locally throughout his entire adult life.
Giffin, or “Giff,” as his students affectionately called him, taught biology at RFH from 1956 to 1991 and also served as chairman of the Science Department. While a teacher at the high school, he was at different times both the girls’ and boys’ basketball coach as well as the school golf coach. Looking for an opportunity for girls to be more involved in school activities, Giffin created and developed the girls’ rifle drill team which at one time numbered 100 girls and performed at all football games as well as participating for a number of years in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. Giffin was also involved in student government and activities through the position of class advisor. More informally, Giffin enjoyed sharing his love of ballroom dancing with students in the high school as well. According to students who were inspired by him, “Mention Mr. Giffin’s name during any RFH Reunion, and you will be met with an avalanche of heartwarming stories about how Mr. Giffin helped shape their lives in so many positive ways: how he picked them up when they were down, taught them valuable lessons about life, energized them to learn science, dancing, drill team, basketball, golf, respect for others, how he was always there to listen and provide encouragement as they went through those difficult adolescent years and how he consistently and gently motivated everyone to find their passion in life.”
The class of 1991 dedicated their senior yearbook to Giffin, and 30 years later, his students are still inspired by his impact.
Giffin was a longtime Fair Haven resident. Prior to his time at RFH, he served as a captain with the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. He graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine in 1951 and earned a master’s degree from Colby as well as from the University of Vermont. Outside of the halls, Giffin was an active member of various local religious, social and charitable groups, and was a founder of the Fair Haven Fields Committee and the director of the Fair Haven Recreation Commission for several years.
Members of the RFH class of 1973 spearheaded the effort to create the memorial fund in Giffin’s honor. According to ’73 grad Bill Davidson, “We had many outstanding teachers at RFH. Mr. Giffin was not only an outstanding teacher, but an energetic, spirited and talented individual who was admired and remembered by so many. Giff taught students over four decades which saw so much change but he never lost his ability to connect with students over those years. He was a gift!”
Fellow ’73 Bulldog Cindy Sherman added, “George Giffin saw something in me that I did not see in myself. For that, I am forever grateful.”