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Griffin W. Okie (Grif)

Died: July 7, 2017

I lived life on my own terms and to my own satisfaction. After serving in the U.S. Navy on a destroyer from 1966 to 1970, I decided to strike out on my own for the other coast and moved to San Francisco. After a brief stint with a large bank and then “saving” minority businesses with an SBA Great Society program, I began a 40-plus year quest to build the most beautiful hardwood furniture — a goal springing from some cosmic connection of unknown origin. California in the seventies exuded “anything is possible,” and I was here for the ride.

For my entire working life, I couldn’t wait to start each day. I was genetically tuned in to

the beauty in the grain of woods, and I wanted to show it off in the best form possible.

I originally wished to be a sculptor, but soon learned that a well crafted table was as beautiful as any sculpture — and that became my artistic expression.

Over the 40 plus years working with hardwood, I have had some amazing clients and always loved the interaction of designing and building the perfect piece. There were often pieces made with such wonderful woods and with just the right feel that I could barely wait to show them off. My clients included politicians, rock singers, movie actors, and magnates from the Silicon Valley heyday. I was surprised to find one of my favorite patrons on the cover of Time magazine as the ”Man of the Year 1997” — Andrew Grove of Intel. As well as wonderful clients, I would also say that my colleagues who work in the arts are the most giving people — very little competition and lots of shared knowledge and heartfelt kindness.

I started with a small shop in the Marina district of San Francisco, re-located to a large building in San Rafael (Marin County) in 1975, and now enjoy my beautiful large shop on our 10 acre property an hour north, near Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. We live with our two dogs and three horses along the Mark West Creek, which, although 28 miles to the ocean, is one of the healthiest fish habitats. I have enjoyed working on saving the steelhead, the woods and the scarce water.

I am married to a wonderfully beautiful and intelligent lady, Cyrie, who has two sons, Tucker (and son, Hudson) and Charlie. My son, Tyler, at 23 has just provided us with a very happy little boy — Jackson. Ty and Emily live not far from us, which provides me with a new joyful occupation as grandfather. And just in time for me, as my health now precludes me from breathing any form of sawdust. So I regretfully stopped making my furniture last year.

Serving in the Vietnam war may have made me realize that we only go around one time and so do “what you want to do with your life.” I had the pleasure of making beautiful things for these many years. And I have had the pleasure of living in the world’s most beautiful area, the Bay Area. We had sailing and hiking, camping in the wilds of Yosemite, skiing in the Sierras. It continues to be a most wonderful journey.