Student’s life is remembered

Alan Bjerga

At 9:15 a.m. on Friday, University senior Michael Griffin had an appointment for a depression screening at Boynton Health Service. His girlfriend, University sophomore Liberty Eggink, said seeking help for depression was a big step for Griffin.
He was very self-reliant but he knew he needed help, Eggink said.
Griffin never made it to his appointment. He was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning at his Minneapolis home Wednesday afternoon. Though Minneapolis police have not yet ruled Griffin’s death a suicide, friends said he had battled depression for a long time and had discussed committing suicide in the past.
“He was always up and down, up and down,” said University senior Joe Schuman. “For years he told people he was going to die by suicide. He always had that side to him.”
Griffin was born on January 17, 1972. A 1990 graduate of Northfield High School, Griffin entered the University in the fall of 1992 after serving in the U.S. Army. His father, Dennis Griffin, said, “The last time I saw him it was all hugs and ‘I love you’ … but he kept within himself.”
Although Griffin’s friends noticed his depression seemed more prominent shortly before his death, most felt he had made progress in recent months. “Things really seemed to be going well,” said University sophomore Alison Neumann.
Griffin was the singer and songwriter for the band Man Afraid. The band played several shows at the University in the past few years, and through fan word-of-mouth and touring had gained an international following and a reputation for intelligent, politically aware lyrics and a distinct, hard-core musical style. The band released a seven-inch EP last November and was in the process of releasing another one when Griffin died.
Man Afraid and his friends were a source of pride for Griffin, said fellow band member Nick Wirz.
Griffin’s friend Chris Schlichting said, “He was talking about how ‘Things are great and I’ve got this great band and great friends — but I’ve got this something inside that I can’t shake and I can’t get rid of.'”
“He could be so rational and say he knew all these people cared about him, but somehow he never felt it. I’d tell him all these people cared about him, but he’d always act surprised.”
But once Griffin made a friend, Eggink said, bonds were strong. “With him, people were either like ‘Yeah, he’s too much’ or you’d get his sense of humor and think he was kind of interesting … and if you let him in and he liked you, he just totally gave himself to you.”
Dennis Griffin said his son, a history major, had a lifelong love of learning. “He loved the University and he loved his classes. He was a walking encyclopedia of history.”
“So many people just go to the U and live off their parents’ money … Mike took classes because he cared about them,” Eggink said.
“He wanted to be a history professor. He knew that was his calling … we all thought he would be great at it,” said friend Pat Wirz, Nick’s brother and also a member of Man Afraid.
Griffin is survived by three great-grandparents; three grandparents; his father and his father’s wife Mary; his mother, Janet Donnelly, of Bay St. Louis, Miss.; one brother and one sister. Memorial services are being held Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Benson Funeral Home in Northfield.