Harold Griffith, Grandson of Park’s Donor, Dies

Harold Griffith, grandson of the Welsh immigrant who gave Griffith Park to the city of Los Angeles and who fought to rescind automobile entry fees to the 4,000-acre park, died at age 69.

He died of respiratory complications Friday in St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.

A retired landscaper and horticulturist, Griffith and his wife, Debra, lived quietly in Los Angeles until 1981 when the city Recreation and Parks Commission ordered a 50-cent weekday fee and $1 weekend fee for cars entering the park.

He noted in an interview after he filed suit to void the fees that he was only carrying on a Griffith tradition of battling inroads into the land Col. Griffith J. Griffith carved from his El Rancho de Los Feliz land grant and gave to Los Angeles in 1896.


Harold Griffith’s father, Van, had sued the state years ago to prevent acquisition of park land for Interstate 5.

Harold Griffith lost his suit, but by 1984 an improved budgetary outlook led to the elimination of the auto fees.

He and his wife were also at the forefront of the successful drive to raise $400,000 to refurbish the three domes at the Griffith Park Observatory.

Harold Griffith was a botanical hobbyist who turned his hobby into a successful commercial landscaping business. He also produced exotic plants, among them the Mauna Loa, a hybrid orchid. He sent 100,000 of the seedlings around the world in the 1960s.


Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Griffith Van Griffith, and one granddaughter. Funeral services will be private.