Jeanne Marie Griffin Broddle was raised to eternal life May 19, 2020 in Midland, Mich., at the age of 91. As she wished, she died peacefully at home, gently taking her last breath the day after her birthday.
Jeanne was born on May 18, 1929 in Chicago. The second child of Harry and Arvilla Harmon, she grew up during the Great Depression, which she thought she caused because her family always said, “Jeanne was born and then the market crashed.” Growing up in Chicago was the beginning of her life-long (and well-known) love for Lake Michigan. She graduated from Trinity High School, and then attended Iowa State University. During college, she met PhD student J. Dennis “Denny” Griffin who fell madly in love with her. They married in 1950, returned to Ames, Iowa, to live in married housing while Denny finished his degree, and welcomed their first son in 1952.
After Denny received his doctorate and took a job with The Dow Chemical Company, Jeanne moved with her new family to Midland in 1953. Their happy family grew over the years with the additions of three more sons and a daughter. Jeanne also built extended “families” in Midland through deep and long-lasting friendships that began in college, her church communities of Blessed Sacrament and Assumption, the lay ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, several neighborhoods, volunteer work with organizations including the Nonviolent Peaceforce, and her career.
Jeanne valued education throughout her life. Although she didn’t receive a degree at Iowa State, she continued her education as an adult, eventually earning a B.A. from Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) and an M.S. from Central Michigan University. Using her innate talents and her graduate degree in Psychology, she was a founding member of and a career counselor for SVSU’s Chrysallis Center. The center was launched in the early 1970s to help “displaced homemakers” get degrees and begin independent careers. The counseling center soon extended its services to all nontraditional students. In 1977, while Jeanne was integral to furthering its mission, the Chrysallis Center was recognized by The Technical Education Research Center in Cambridge, Mass., as an outstanding national career counseling center.
Jeanne’s ability to counsel people trying to find new directions for their lives was shaped by personal experience. In 1972, her husband Denny died, leaving her a young widow with five children. She became not only their sole parent and provider, but also their rock (and semi-professional worrier) who sustained them in the loss of their father and throughout their lives.
She found love and companionship again when she married Colin Broddle. Together they laughed a lot, traveled, volunteered – and even campaigned in his bid for City Council – until his death in 2013. He was a constant and loving presence for her and her family, especially as she faced the greatest heartache in her life with the death of her son Mark in 1986.
Jeanne’s loving and positive spirit will be greatly missed by her family and friends. Each of her children visited her in the days before her death, assuring her that she could finally surrender her worries and let go. And as she is now joyfully reunited with her loved ones in heaven, she knows that she didn’t cause the flood of 2020 even though her family will probably say, “Jeanne died and then we had the flood.”
Jeanne was predeceased by her parents Harry H. and Arvilla Hutten Harmon; husbands John Dennis “Denny” Griffin and Colin H. Broddle; son Mark Griffin; brother John “Jack” Harmon; and dear brothers- and sisters-in-law, cousins, and niece and nephew.
She loved and was proud of her surviving family: children (Rev.) Joseph Griffin, Peter (Sharon) Griffin, Thomas Griffin, Maribeth (Matthew) Griffin Galligan; daughter-in-law Jennifer Griffin; stepchildren Marilyn (Thomas) Borowski, John (Lisa) Broddle, Russell Broddle, and Jeffrey (Sharon Russell) Broddle; grandchildren Scott (Christine) Griffin, Justin (Bel Lucas) Griffin, Daniel (Jennifer Eidem) Griffin, Christina (Alex) Byland, Mark Griffin, John Dennis (Jessica) Griffin II, Stephen (Anna) Griffin, Sara (Mitchell) Hardy, Catherine Galligan, Griffin Galligan, and Gina Galligan; seven great grandchildren; seven step grandchildren and nine step great grandchildren; brother- and sisters-in-law; cousin; and nieces and nephews.
Jeanne’s family shares their deepest thanks to Tommie Torrez for her selfless care during the last year of Jeanne’s life, especially with the difficulties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Also much appreciation for the guidance and support offered by the compassionate folks at MidMichigan Health Hospice.
Jeanne’s life was celebrated in a private mass at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Midland on May 22, 2020. A memorial service will be held in the future when it is safe for family and friends to gather again.
Those wishing to honor Jeanne’s memory may consider donations to flood relief funds through the Midland Area Community Foundation, https://www.midlandfoundation.org/fund/flood, the United Way of Midland County’s Rise Together Fund, https://eportal.unitedwaymidland.org/servlet/eAndar.article/997/Rise-Together-Fund, or the Midland County Emergency Food Pantry Network (EFPN), https://midlandcountyefpn.org/howyoucanhelp/.