Tag Archives: George Giffin

Getting In Step with an RFH Icon

George Giffin moving feet to the beat with RFH Drill team girls
Photo/RFH Yearbook

“OK, pick your dance partners,” RFH’s iconic George Giffin said at a 70s ballroom dance class.

The cool guys scurried to get the most popular girls as the tune countdown ticked away. I was the last girl left. Left footed, Lainey. Yep. Giff chuckled a little, looked at the two boys left as they backed into the wall like frightened wallflower turtles.

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Honoring an RFH Icon: George Giffin Memorial Fund Created

Dancing George Giffiin in May of 2012 at Fairwinds Deli, Fair Haven
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

“When you get that beat, you gotta
move your feet!”

George Giffin in 2012 at 83 (or so, as he said)

Move their feet to the beat of a George Giffin Memorial Fund is exactly what Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) alumni, in partnership with high school’s Education Foundation, have done. The foundation was created to honor and advance the passions of the iconic longtime RFH biology and dance teacher.

George, or “Giff,” as his students affectionately called him, garnered iconic status in his 35 years, from 1956 to 1991, at RFH. The Class of 1991, the last class for which Giff taught, dedicated its senior yearbook to him.

For a stint during his RFH tenure, Giff served as chairman of the high school’s Science Department. He also taught an elective ballroom dance class at RFH that quickly became a must and was known to keep students on their toes, dancing with class in any social setting. Post high school, Giff showed up at many an RFH reunion or wedding to get the dance party started and going all night. If you saw him around the towns in his retired years, he’d gladly tell you all about the joy that dancing in and out of those high school years gave him. And he wasn’t alone. For RFH alumni, a dancing Giff appearance always made the celebration complete at any event.

For that reason, the money raised for the new George Giffin Memorial Fund will be used to support RFH programs for which Giff held a deep commitment — those with which he aimed to empower students at RFH to achieve their goals and develop a true love of learning and living.

Remembered by countless students for his quirky, enigmatic personality, Giff was known to pepper his lessons with a lot of laughter, cheer, soft-shoe steps and jokes in and out of the classroom.

In addition to teaching, Giff was, at different times, both the girls’ and boys’ basketball coach as well as the RFH Golf Team coach. Known as always the fearless pioneer, while looking for an opportunity decades ago for girls to be more involved in school activities, Giff created and directed the RFH Girls’ Drill Team.

The girls on the team practiced twirling rifles Giff-choreographed routines at football halftimes. At one time, the team was comprised of 100 girls; and, in addition to football game performances, marched, for years, in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NYC.

George Giffin at 83 (or so, as he said) in 2012
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Word among RFH alumni spread recently when members of the RFH Class of 1973 spearheaded the effort to create the memorial fund in Giff’s honor.  

“We had many outstanding teachers at RFH,” said Class of ’73 grad Bill Davidson. “Mr. Giffin was not only an outstanding teacher but an energetic, spirited, and talented individual who  was admired and remembered by so many.  

“Giff taught students over four decades which saw so much change but he never lost his ability to connect with students over those years!  He was a gift!”

Classmate Cindy Sherman elaborated, saying, “George Giffin saw something in me that I did not see in myself … for that, I am forever grateful.”

Along with Davidson and Sherman, Steve Farely and Ellen Spears comprise the four-member Steering Committee for the Fund.

“The Foundation is honored to help RFH alumni recognize Mr. Giffin through the establishment of the George Giffin Memorial Fund,” RFH Foundation Board President Mary Pat Moriarty said. “During Mr. Giffin’s years of service as an educator, he encouraged and supported countless RFH students. Today, thanks to the generosity of the alumni, family and friends he inspired, he will impact a new generation of RFH students for years to come by creating opportunities for academic enrichment through the grants funded
in his memory.”

The RFH Education Foundation, a charitable organization with the mission of enriching the high school curriculum by funding projects and grants that fall outside of the school system’s mainstream budget.

George Giffin died in 2014 at the age of 85. He was a longtime Fair Haven resident. His wife, Marcia, a former Knollwood School English teacher, still lives in Fair Haven. Prior to his time at RFH, he served as a captain with the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. A 1951 graduate of Colby College in Waterville, ME, he earned a master’s degree from Colby as well as from the University of Vermont.

Outside of the RFH halls and grounds, Giff was an active member of various local religious, social and charitable groups. He was a founder of the Fair Haven Fields Committee and the director of the Fair Haven Recreation Commission for several years.

To donate to the fund campaign starting on April 1 (no joke), visit the RFH Education Foundations’ website.

— Elaine Van Develde & RFH press release information

Retro Fair Haven Day with Iconic Fair Havenites

Saturday was a tough day for Fair Havenites longing to keep tradition going, but flogged by a pandemic. It would have been the eighth actual Fair Haven Day on Saturday. The day that started it the annual Fair Haven Day tradition was the Fair Haven Centennial Celebration in 2012.

Continue reading Retro Fair Haven Day with Iconic Fair Havenites

Retro RFH Prom, George Giffin Style

George Giffin dancing at the 1963 prom Photo/courtesy of Debra Giffin Schluter
George Giffin dancing at the 1963 prom
Photo/courtesy of Debra Giffin Schluter

This is a classic that’s been seen before, but warrants another look, considering the timing …

The RFH junior prom was on Friday night. And the prom is all about dressing up, coupling up and dancing. Well, that’s most of what it’s all about, anyway. No teacher in RFH history loved to dance more than RFH science teacher of days gone by, George Giffin. He taught ballroom dance, he danced all over the place and he was even known to show up at many a student’s wedding and several reunions to make sure everyone remembered how it’s done on the dance floor.

There was even a George Giffin Memorial Dance-a-Thon in 2015 honoring the RFH legend.

So, what better Retro Pic of the Day in honor of prom time than a photo of RFH’s George Giffin dancing with his wife, former Knollwood English teacher, Marcia Giffin, at the RFH prom in the 1960s?

Take a look and click on the links for more info on the one and only Mr. Giffin.

Photo/courtesy of Debra Giffin Schluter

Retro RFH Cartwheels with George Giffin

RFH teacher George Giffin does a cartwheel to cheer on the cheerleaders in the 1970s. Photo/RFH yearbook screenshot
RFH teacher George Giffin does a cartwheel to cheer on the cheerleaders in the 1970s.
Photo/RFH yearbook screenshot

With this howling chill in the air lately, people are pretty primed for the arrival of spring. In fact, you could say that they may even be doing cartwheels over it.

Well, in light of that excitement to spring into the warmer season, the Retro Pic of the Day gives a glimpse back to a beloved teacher who danced and, yes, did cartwheels over any exciting event — or just for plain old fun.

That teacher was George Giffin, otherwise referred to as Giff. He was a science teacher and was particularly famous for his ballroom dance class. And, boy, could the man dance!

The RFH community lost Giff on May 15, 2014; and, to ask just about any RFH grad or member of the community, it was a tremendous loss.

Last time this editor caught up with Mr. Giffin, he was grabbing some lunch at Fairwinds Deli. In his 80s, he was still dancing and actually launched into a little routine right there with a little cha-cha-cha and “When you get that beat, you gotta mooooove your feet!”

Who will dance or do a cartwheel when spring arrives in memory of Mr. Giffin? Oh, and send us your pics if you do!

Retro Remembrance of Fair Havenites on First Fair Haven Day

Pat Topfer at the first Fair Haven Day Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Pat Topfer at the first Fair Haven Day
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

George Giffin at the first Fair Haven Day Photo/Elaine Van Develde
George Giffin at the first Fair Haven Day
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Fair Haven Day is Saturday. It was a few years ago that the first Fair Haven Day took place on the borough’s centennial celebration.

Since then, the borough has lost some of its longtime residents who everyone knew in one capacity or another. They were some of the faces of Fair Haven.

So, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day honors two of those people who were there on the first Fair Haven Day, proud longtime Fair Havenites and icons: Life member of the Fair Haven Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary, Pat Topfer; and ever-popular RFH science and dance teacher extraordinaire, George Giffin.

The featured photo on the Fair Haven Day event announcement today included a popular longtime resident and friend to the borough, Ben Hamilton.

RIP, Ben, Pat and Gif. You are remembered.

Retro Fair Haven Day with Two Who Have Passed

Saturday is Fair Haven Day.

Since the first, on Fair Haven’s Centennial Celebration in 2012, the day has become a borough tradition.

On that first Fair Haven Day, a couple of local celebrities, longtime Fair Havenites, were there and all jazzed up with love of their hometowns to celebrate.

Since then, these two have passed: RFH teacher and dancer extraordinaire, George Giffin; and longtime Fair Haven Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary member Pat Topfer.

So, today, with our Retro Pic(s) of the Day, we take a look back at those smiling faces, remember what these two did for their beloved borough and its people, thank them and remember the sincerity of their giving, neighborly hearts.

RIP George Giffin and Pat Topfer. May future generations of Fair Havenites carry on with spirits as generous and caring as yours!

Dancing for RFH’s George Giffin

By George, it was an evening all about dance and raising funds for a good cause!

The George Giffin Memorial Dance-a-Thon was dubbed a good time for all on Saturday.

The popular Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School science and dance teacher and coach passed away last year. In finding a fitting way to memorialize him and garner some money for Monmouth Day Care Center, his daughter Debra Schluter and a committed group of volunteers set the dance-a-thin in motion — literally.

Take a look at the slideshow above for a glimpse into the event, and remember George Giffin.

“When you get that beat, you have to moooove your feet!” — George Giffin.

— Elaine Van Develde

The R-FH Area Weekend: Hanga Loose, Whale of a Sale, George Giffin Dance & Theater

The weekend forecast calls for a lot of sun and fun in the Rumson-Fair Haven area.

Plan accordingly. Get out and to all or a few of the events on tap.

Friday

• Everyone’s hangin’ loose in memory of Silvio Fabbri in the back room of Umberto’s in Fair Haven on Fridays, starting at 7 p.m.

Great way to remember Silvio and hang with friends and neighbors in the community.

“Hanga loose” and enjoy, as Silvio would say.

Continue reading The R-FH Area Weekend: Hanga Loose, Whale of a Sale, George Giffin Dance & Theater

Retro Dance with George Giffin

The time is drawing near for all Rumson-Fair Haven area people to remember, honor and dance in the name of RFH’s ever-famous George Giffin, science and dance teacher extraordinaire who died last year.

The George Giffin Memorial Dance-a-thon is set for next week — Saturday, April 18 from 5 to 10 p.m. in the RFH gym.

With proceeds benefitting the Monmouth Day Care Center, people, in the name of Mr. Giffin, are invited to dance or just be a spectator at the event, which is being sponsored by the RFH Dance Troupe.

So, in preparation of the event and to remember the magic that was George Giffin, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day gives a glimpse into the last day this editor saw Mr. Giffin dance.

It was 2012 and he was at Fairwinds Deli in Fair Haven. It didn’t take much for Mr. Giffin, or Giff, as he was called, to launch into a routine no matter where it was.

He talked about how he loved to still show up at RFH grads’ weddings and teach them a few steps. He also said he was not too fond of the way in which the English language has been slaughtered “these days.” We agree.

Brown paper sandwich bag in hand, Giff then rhythmically chanted, “When you get that beat, you’ve got to move your feet!” as he did his own little dance right in the deli line.

What a treat.

There were popular teachers at RFH, all cherished, but George Giffin just had what theater professionals call “it” — personality, stage presence, that special something that makes people’s eyes twinkle when they’re around.

Always equipped with a passel of jokes, a smile and a “five, six, five six, seven, eight and one, two, cha, cha, cha” it’s a sure bet that he’d love to marathon dance at this event.

Though we’re not sure if he would be out teaching some classic ballroom dance moves, try a few of the newer moves or both, but we know he’d at least give it a “cha, cha, cha, dip, twirl” and maybe a cartwheel … just to throw people off — or not.

Dancers for the event must be 12 and up. Cost to dance is $50, while admission is $10 for spectators, and $5 for spectators age 12 and under.

Click here for more information. 

What was your favorite George Giffin dance?

Editor’s Notes & the R-FH Area Week Ahead

Happy Monday, Rumson-Fair Haven area friends and fans!

OK, so spring has not exactly sprung as we would have liked quite yet, but it looks like there’s hope of some sort, soggy as it may be, for a rise in temps as the week progresses. Please!

In the meantime, it’s a chilly start to the week today.

There are Borough Council meetings in both Rumson and Fair Haven this week. Fair Haven’s meeting is Monday night at 7 p.m. at Borough Hall. Click here for the agenda. Rumson’s meeting is Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Borough Hall. Click here for that agenda.

Taking a look back at last week, here are some tidbits from the notebook the likes of which your editor is going to start sharing on a weekly basis:

Continue reading Editor’s Notes & the R-FH Area Week Ahead