Griffin Hale James ’97


Champaign, IL — Griffin Hale James passed away very suddenly on Saturday, July 30, at the age of 43 from an undiagnosed heart condition.

Griffin was born to parents, Peter and Katherine (Kitty) McNiff James, of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, on March 28, 1979. He attended South Deerfield Elementary and the Bement School prior to Deerfield Academy (Class of 1997), where he is remembered as an Eagle Scout, involved community member, avid outdoorsman and accomplished trombone player. He attended Brown University (Class of 2001), where he was a captain of the downhill ski racing team and member of the jazz and wind symphony bands, prior to graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He then moved to Boston, where he began his career at Gilbane Building Company prior to attending Harvard Business School. After graduating with his MBA (Class of 2008), he worked as a business consultant, first at Trammell Crow and then at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited for the past thirteen years. His work took him all over the world and earned him lifelong friends and colleagues. He was humbled to earn a partner level promotion at Deloitte only days prior to his untimely death.

Griffin married the love of his life and perfect match, Dr. Sara Elizabeth Royston, on February 12, 2022 and was so incredibly excited to become a father to a baby boy due January, 2023. He could not wait to become a dad. Griffin, Sara and their loyal dog, Clementine, moved from Boston to Champaign, Illinois in July, 2022, and looked forward to devoting more time to their growing family.

Griffin loved skiing, aviation, excellent wine and exploring unmarked hiking trails. More than anything, he loved his family, friends, wife and unborn son. Griffin will always be remembered for his quick wit, loyalty, work ethic and eternal commitment to those he loved. He is survived by his wife, Sara Royston James, unborn son, Peter William Griffin James, and small brown dog, Clementine, of Champaign, IL; parents, Peter and Katherine James, of South Deerfield, MA; brother, Garrett (Olga Kisseleva) James, and nephew, Kieran James, of Scarsdale, NY; brother in law, Josh (Tracy) Royston, and niece and nephew, Maya and Kyle Royston, of Pittsburgh, PA; and numerous treasured friends, aunts, uncles, cousins and colleagues throughout the world. We will never understand how something so horrible can happen to someone so loving, kind and generous, but are forever grateful for memories of Griffin and stories from all of those he impacted.

All are warmly invited to a funeral service at The First Church of Deerfield (71 Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA 01342) at 11:30 am (EDT) on September 24, 2022. A memorial reception where all are invited to share memories of Griffin will immediately follow. In addition to flowers, donations may be made to the Griffin H. James Memorial Trust (First Federal Saving Bank of Champaign-Urbana, 1311 S. Neil St, Champaign, IL 61820).

Published by The Recorder on Sep. 8, 2022.

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