Obituary: Phillip Marshall Griffin

Jason A. Michael

June 9, 1948 – Oct. 1, 2020

Phillip Marshall Griffin, known to friends as Phil, was a longtime member of Metropolitan Community Church – Detroit. He was remembered by friends and his husband of 25 years, Tom Sullivan, as the ultimate prayer warrior. He died Oct. 1.

"Phil was an old-school Baptist or Pentecostal within our church," said the Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow, senior pastor and teacher at MCC-D. "He will be fondly remembered for playing his tambourine during the praise and worship time and for saying his 'Hallelu!' from the back of the church encouraging me during my sermons. He was a spirited man and his energy will be missed."

Griffin was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and moved to Michigan in the mid-'80s. A self-taught chef, Griffin worked at numerous restaurants, including the Hotel St. Regis in the Detroit area before creating his own business, PT's Catering.

"His father was a chef at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City," Griffin said. "So, I think it was kind of in his blood."

Griffin and Sullivan first met in 1992 at the Woodward Bar.

"It's very funny because I was kind of dating somebody," Sullivan recalled. "I knew it wouldn't last because he was going back to California and the day before I met Phil, [the man who was leaving] said, 'Hey, do you want to go to this bar?' I said sure, I've never been there before.

"So, the following day I felt lonely so I went back to the bar and just out of the blue somebody came up next to me and said, 'Hey, it's going to be OK.' So we just started talking and he told me the next day was his birthday and then I went to Chosen Books and got him a birthday card and sent it to him," Sullivan said. "Then three years and three days later, we got married."

Griffin and Sullivan lived in Ferndale, and Griffin was a proud member of the Blackfoot Tribe. His hobbies included traveling, camping and spending time with cherished family and friends.

"We have so many memories made with Phil, but what I think of first is his generous heart," longtime friend Anne Strominger posted in an online tribute. "Phil was always the first to welcome, to pray, to cheer and support his family and friends. He liked to do simple, thoughtful things like always bringing grapes for my kids to snack on or offering a prayer over our new home. And he liked to do much bigger things like preparing a feast for 20 people on a camping trip.

"Phil lived and loved with so much energy and enthusiasm, he put me to shame," Strominger continued. "He was always striking up conversations with strangers and willing to try anything once — even a certain Cedar Point ride where we could hear Phil yelling, 'Lord have mercy!' until it mercifully ended. And his laugh … I'll never, ever forget it."

Sullivan said what he will miss most about Griffin is the couple's Sunday drives.

"After church, we'd just go out and have breakfast and just drive around," Sullivan said. "He would always want an ice cream sundae. Just the whole idea of spending time with him was beautiful.

"I don't know," Sullivan went on. "We were soulmates and we just hit it off right away. We were very good friends right from the start. I always say that the good Lord put us together for a reason."

Per his wishes, there was no funeral service for Griffin and his ashes will be scattered in Lake Michigan at a later date.