Raymond Griffin never minded working hard.
“When I was young, he always had three jobs,” his son, Raymond Jr., remembers.
Raymond Sr.’s main career was in his longtime hometown, Ocean City, where he spent 25 years as a school custodian. His daughter, Ruth Griffin-Walker, 47, of Wildwood Crest, remembers a few other part-time jobs.
But no job could match how long he spent at Bob’s Grill, an institution on his local Boardwalk. Then again, probably few jobs anywhere ever lasted as long for anyone as this one — his obituary said Raymond Sr. worked there for 73 years.
“Everyone who saw it thought it was a misprint,” Griffin-Walker said.
But Raymond Sr. really did start working at Bob’s as a teenager, shortly after he moved from Hagerstown, Md. to Ocean City. And he didn’t retire from the seasonal spot until last year — less than a year before he died Feb 28, at 89.
“I first met Raymond when he was 15 and I was 9,” said Bob Harbaugh Jr., 83, whose father founded Bob’s Grill in 1928. The restaurant moved once, but the owners stayed with it. So did Raymond Sr. — also known as Ray, Grif and “The Colonel.”
“He was the first person there every day,” said Russell Hendricks, 50, of Upper Township, a Harbaugh nephew who worked with Raymond for more than 30 years. “He unlocked the doors, washed the windows, watered the plants, made the hamburger patties. He just made sure everything was in place every day.”
He could still drive to work last year from Pleasantville, where he and his wife, Christine, moved in the late 1990s. Christine died in 2011, at 76, after 54 years of marriage.
And everything Raymond did for the past 20 or so years, he did on an artificial leg.
“He had been working umpteen years with lots of pain,” Hendricks remembers. When it wouldn’t heal, Bob Harbaugh Jr. kept taking him to doctors until they found a circulation problem.
“When he had it amputated, he was like a new man,” Hendricks said. “He was in his late 60s, working better than ever.”
Raymond Sr. would show up at work in the winter, when Bob’s was closed. Nobody told him to, and he wasn’t even being paid. But he seemed to worry about the place as an owner would.
And the irony was, his daughter adds, “He didn’t really need to work — his house and everything was paid for. But he said that’s what kept him going. He always said he felt like a teenager there.”
In the 1940s, Raymond Sr. got a few summers off from Bob’s — so the U.S. Navy could send him to World War II. Back home in 1945, he had some troubles, physical and otherwise. His old boss, Bob Harbaugh Sr., helped him straighten things out.
“You talk about loyalty,” Hendricks said. “Raymond was the definition of loyalty.”
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