In Loving Memory of Tom Griffen

August 12, 1958
Bronx, NY
July 22, 2020
Fairfield, CT
Funeral Home

Spear-Miller Funeral Home

39 South Benson Road,
Fairfield CT US 06824


5:00pm - 8:00pm

39 South Benson Road,
Fairfield CT 06824

July 30, 2020


Our Lady of the Assumption Church

Private Funeral Mass


Holy Mount Cemetery

Eastchester NY

No date included.

Family Gathering


National Multiple Sclerosis Society

P.O. Box 91891,
Washington DC 20090-1891


149 Newfield Rd,
Winsted CT 06098

Thomas Patrick Griffen

Thomas Patrick Griffen, age 61, beloved husband of Dorothy Griffen (Rusak), of Fairfield, passed peacefully on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Born in the Bronx in 1958 to Charles and Mary Jo Griffen, Tom spent most of his youth in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Tom always loved the outdoors and camping. In adolescence he achieved the highest rank and award attainable through the Boy Scouts of America, the Eagle Scout Award and active as an adult leader in his son’s achievement of becoming an Eagle Scout. He received his Bachelors degree from Boston College in 1981 and later went on to obtain his Masters in Educational Administration from Fairfield University in 1987. Shortly after completing his schooling, he married his beloved Dotty. Tom was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Council 1520. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Tom became an advocate for the MS Society and ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities), a non-profit organization through which Tom received his service dog, Sterling. In addition to his cherished Dotty, Tom is survived by his two children Bernadette Valenzano (Anthony) and Geoffrey Griffen; his newborn grandson Anthony Thomas Valenzano; his sister, Joanne Rejevich; his brother, Charles Griffen (Diana); several nieces and nephews; as well as his faithful four-legged companion, Sterling. Additionally, he leaves behind brothers and sister-in-laws John Rusak (Suzie), Sam Xerri and William Triandafilos. Thomas is predeceased by his brother he lost early in life, John Griffen, affectionately called “Baby John,” as well as his sister Catherine Xerri. Tom’s family will be receiving visitors on Thursday, July 30, 2020 from 5:00pm to 8:00pm at the Spear-Miller Funeral Home, 39 South Benson Road, Fairfield. Services will be held privately at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Fairfield with interment in Holy Mount Cemetery in Eastchester, New York. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Tom’s memory to either the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, P.O. Box 91891,Washington DC 20090-1891, or to ECAD, 149 Newfield Rd, Winsted, CT 06098. For information or to sign an online register, please visit

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17 Guestbook Entries for Thomas Patrick Griffen

  1. “what we have once enjoyed,we can never lose.All that we love deeply becomes part of us” How blessed I was to have had the friendship of such a fantastic man. my heartfelt sympathy to the Griffen family and my sweet Sterling. I am so sorry for your loss.

  2. I’ve only known Tom for a relatively short time, but feel blessed to call him my friend. His kind heart and devilish personality always brightened up the room. His strength and courage was inspiring. My heart goes out to Dotty and the rest of the Griffen family. But in this time of great sadness there is hope – from the ashes rises a new Griffen – congratulations Anthony and Bernadette… may the legacy go on!

    I will miss you my dear friend … I will miss my treadmill workouts with you and your faithful companion Sterling; I will miss our conversations about nothing and about everything; I miss your bluntness that cut through to the truth; I will miss your friendship – may you finally be pain-free and rest in peace. Good bye ol’ friend, you will be missed.

  3. I know your Dad and Sterling from the gym. What a wonderful and kind soul he had. We all enjoyed talking to him after swim class and after Sterling put away his equipment! He will be dearly missed. The world was a better place with Tom in it. God bless all of you in this difficult time.

  4. It is with a very heavy heart that I only begin to understand that Tom is no longer with us. He was such an inspiration as a man who has dealt with difficulties in his life but always stood tall and proud and eager to help and teach others. His spirit was so strong, and the love he showed to everyone around him was palpable. With a caring word and a wry joke, he brightened everyone’s day. He will be terribly missed within the wide ECAD community and beyond. Thank you Tom. I hope you know how much I loved and appreciated you.

  5. Tom I will miss you and our conversations. Thank you for being the keeper of family history and traditions. May you rest in eternal peace and we will all make sure that your grandson Anthony Thomas knows how much you were looking forward to his arrival and how much he was loved. Even though you loved to tease me growing up I always knew you loved me. I was honored to have you as The Godfather for two of my daughters. I know you have your angel wings and have been reunited with family gone before. I’m sure Lloyd was happy to have you join him in heaven. He really liked chatting with you!! Love you always and forever until we meet again. Love Joanne

  6. Tom was the voice for so many that needed him. His passion for educating was impressive. After retiring as a teacher he still taught. Fighting for the underdog, like getting a travel station wheelchair accessible spoke volume for me, especially since he himself did not need it. The world is better for the part you played in it. Forgive my grammar, your friend, Lu

  7. My heartfelt sympathies in the sadness of Tom’s passing. Tom was always so kind to me. Dorothy, Bernadette, and Geoffrey may God bless you and comfort you. Lifting you in prayer ❤️

  8. So sorry to hear this. Tom gave the public access test for myself and my service dog. He will be greatly missed.

  9. I remember Tom as a positive force. I’m very sorry for his untimely departure. May his positivity grow and be expressed by all who love and remember him.

  10. It has been a true “Blessing” in my life to know Mr. Thomas Griffen & his amazing family. Please accept my deepest sympathy on the loss of Tom….God Bless You All! Lee Marie Gentile

  11. Dotty ,
    I am so sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. He has been such a bright light in his advocacy for MS, from bills being passed for keeping snow removal done properly in the winter for handicap spaces to educating people about the importance of service animals. He was forever there to help in any way he could. Such a wonderful gentleman. He will be sorely missed. My thoughts prayers and condolences to you and your children….and that beautiful new grandson he was so excited about!!!!

  12. When the good lord sends us into the world, I believe he has only one assignment for us, to leave the world a better place. Tom has had such a positive impact, bringing Bernadette and Geoffrey into the world, the many friends who his positive and cheerful personality has left a lasting impact on, the organizations he was involved in, and all the others that that he interacted with. Tom has been a positive force his entire life. Without a doubt he was welcomed back home with the words, Tommy well done. We were second cousins, we spent our youth together as, neighbors, classmates’ scouting buddies. I was so fortunate to come back into your life four years ago. I will miss you very much. May the lord give strength to Dotty and all of the Griffen family during this time.

  13. To the family and friends of Tom,

    Please accept my sincere condolences over the loss of Tom.

    Tom and I met when we were both out of work and networking within various groups within Fairfield County. After we gave up the fight, we still remained friends and occasionally met for lunch with another business colleague. At our last lunch meeting I met sterling. In spite of all his medical issues and legal issue, Tom was compassionate and optimistic. My husband had been diagnosed with cancer and Tom always asked me how he was doing and listened to the answer. He was kind in that way. He loved his camping trips and just kept on powering through what life threw him. He was a quality man and I am saddened to learn of his passing at such a young age. RIP Dear Tom, you will be missed.


  14. Went to H.S. with Tom at SJR. GREAT guy!!!! Very sorry to hear of his passing. Sympathy and prayers to all of Tom’s family.
    Rick Heilmann, SJR Class ’76

  15. Dear Griffen Family and Friends,

    Sending my sincere condolences to the passing of Tom. Its difficult to lose a sibling, father, grandfather, good friend. Tom carried a special light within him since childhood – something we were all blessed to have experienced. You are in our thoughts and prayers, rest in peace.

  16. Didn’t find out that you had gene home til today. Good Bye my friend Thank you for being my teacher brother and friend.

  17. My deepest condolences to the extended Griffen family on the passing of Tom and Cathy. May they both rest in peace.