First coach to win a state championship for RISD? Hamilton Park High’s James O. Griffin

Coach James O. Griffin with the trophy and Richard Bonner, who played linebacker on the 1961 state championship team

The ceremony Saturday to dedicate a Texas historical marker for the Hamilton Park Community enabled current and former residents from around the country to gather and recall old stories and beloved people.

You can read my recap here.

One story is that of the late James O. Griffin, who served as principal and head football coach of Richardson ISD’s Hamilton Park High. At that time the building, currently known as Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet, was segregated and served grades 1 through 12. Griffin was a legend – not just among students and parents, but in the entire community.

“Mr. Griffin was like a father to these boys,” said Mary Bussey, who raised two boys and one daughter in Hamilton Park and still lives on Willowdale.

“Mr. Griffin was the coach of the first state championship for Richardson schools,” added Rev. Gahlen Warren, who, like Griffin, has a place on the Hamilton Park Wall of Fame. “Mr. Griffin was our coach, our father, our disciplinarian – our probation officer if we needed one. He was our judge, our lawyer…he wore so many hats.”

On December 16, 1961, under Griffin’s leadership, Hamilton Park High School captured the title Class A Division Texas State Champions.

“I’m happy they are recognizing the Hamilton Park community in this way,” said Warren. “We tried to get a historic marker for the school, but it has to be 50 years of age. Hamilton Park High was born in 1955 but it was shut down in 1970 – just 15 years old. Then the teachers split up and the students were spread to Richardson, Berkner, Lake Highlands and Pearce [during desegregation].”

Bussey said she, also, is pleased about the marker and the memories it brings back of days raising children in Hamilton Park.

“It was a good life.”

Mary Bussey and Rev. Gahlen Warren recall years living in Hamilton Park

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