Cullen Thomas Griffin

Date of Birth

July 31, 1976

Date of Death

October 26, 2021

Cullen Griffin passed away suddenly as the result of a car accident in Ramona, California, on October 26, 2021.  Losing Cullen at the age of 45 is tragic and bewildering; he was very special to many people and will not be forgotten by those who knew and loved him.  Those memories will surely inspire us to overcome our immense grief.

Self-effacing and humble, Cullen would always downplay any achievements made or compliments paid to him.  He probably would shrug off his own obituary, but words cannot begin to describe what a wonderful person he was.  A more honest, forthright, and trustworthy man cannot be found.  He was the ultimate team player, and we are blessed to have had him on our team!

Cullen Thomas Griffin was born on July 31, 1976, at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA, to Thomas and Margaret (Marini) Griffin.  Cullen attended Monroe Elementary School, La Cumbre JHS, and Bishop Diego HS, graduating in 1995.  As a kid, he did all the wonderful things that Santa Barbara has to offer (except for cotillion, which his mother was always threatening to enroll him in).  He was blessed with several close-knit friend groups from his time on the Mesa through high school. 

He loved the outdoors, beginning with annual camping trips to Kings Canyon, where his father taught him how to fish.  This ultimately led to numerous backpacking trips across the Sierra Nevada with his brother and friends. 

While in high school, Cullen played football and basketball, earning Santa Barbara News Press first team all-County honors his senior year in football.  After high school, he attended Cal State Northridge and played football there, returning to Santa Barbara City College after one year.  

Being big, strong, and athletic, Cullen continued to play football at Santa Barbara City College and made the fateful decision to also join the track and field team.  While on the track team, Cullen met the love of his life and future wife, Phoebe Pedersen.  He still holds the all-time best hammer throw record at SBCC (the running joke being that there aren’t many people that throw the hammer for the SBCC track team).

After Santa Barbara City College, Cullen attended Chapman University but decided his passions lay elsewhere and enlisted in the Navy in 2001.  He faithfully served, both active duty and as a reservist, for over 20 years, including a tour in Afghanistan in 2011 as a Corpsman (medic) with the Marines. 

Phoebe joined Cullen while he was stationed in Guam.  They lived in a staff apartment at the Alupang hotel where they could literally fish the ocean from their kitchen window.  They were married on the beach in Guam, in a small ceremony attended by family, on July 31, 2005. 

While in the reserves, Cullen and Phoebe relocated to Houston, Texas.  Cullen worked as a paramedic fireman for the City of Houston for seven years.  Their sons Thor and Titus were born during this time.

Though he was busy as a paramedic, Cullen could not refuse to accept a side job to be one of the primary caregivers for George Herbert Walker Bush.  (Actually, he did refuse at first, thankfully Phoebe talked some sense into him).  He described his job duties as ‘making the President his 5:00 Martini and swapping war stories.’ Still, he ended up becoming a trusted and integral part of the President’s support team for two and a half years, leaving his positions only when they as a family decided to relocate to Kodiak, Alaska.

Kodiak offered them and their boys the great outdoors, and Phoebe worked as a speech pathologist for the local school district while Cullen cared for kids and was part of the volunteer Fire Department and picked up hunting.  He returned to active military duty when he was called up from the Reserves as part of the Navy’s medical screening response to the Covid-19 Pandemic and was on active duty at the time of his passing.

Cullen was pre-deceased by his mother Margaret and is survived by his wife Phoebe Griffin, sons Thor and Titus, father Tom, brother Matt (Jennifer), and numerous cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.

A burial service will be held Monday, December 13, 1:00 PM, at the Santa Barbara Cemetery Association, followed by a 3:00 PM celebration of life at the Palm Park Beach House, 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd.


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