James Thomas Griffin, one of the country's best-known independent scholars, died on May 9 and was buried last Monday alongside his father and brother in Warrnambool on the southwest Victorian coast. He was 80.
Jim Griffin, who grew up in an Irish Catholic home, became an inspirational schoolteacher at Xavier College, Melbourne, a history professor in Papua New Guinea, a lecturer in Townsville where he made many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends, and then at the Australian National University, an analyst at the top secret Office of National Assessments, said The Australian in an obituary.
He was the author of a well-reviewed revisionist biography of John Wren, an irrepressible tenor, and father of six after marrying Helga Girschik at St Peter's in the Vatican.
He died at home in Canberra after a long illness, leaving his biography of Archbishop Daniel Mannix almost completed. When it is published, it will almost certainly create the kind of controversy that Griffin - an intensely cultural though not devoutly religious Catholic - relished, the report adds.
Old friend Father Ed Campion presided over his funeral at St Christopher's Cathedral, Canberra, which was attended by hundreds, including many former students, and a large representation of those Australians who have sustained an interest in PNG. The PNG high commissioner, Charles Lepani, was present.
Jim leaves his wife, Helga; children James, Justin, Denis, Anthea, Cathleen and Gabrielle; and grandchildren Julian, Laura, Patrick, Priscilla, Uriel, Sam and Giovanna.
Scholar and mentor to Melanesia (The Australian)