Sept. 13, 2013
AUBURN, Ala. - Former Auburn football player Lee Griffith will be presented the 2013 Walter Gilbert Award prior to the Tigers' game against Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday.
The Walter Gilbert Award is given annually to former Auburn athletes who have distinguished themselves through achievements after graduation from Auburn. The award is given in memory of the Tigers' three-time All-America center Walter Gilbert, who later became vice president of Texaco's European Oil Operations.
"The first thing I said was `Wow, I can't believe it!' It is quite an honor, a privilege, and I am very humbled to be included with some very special people," said Griffith after learning he would be the award's recipient. "It was an exciting honor and privilege to get the phone call."
Griffith lettered at center for Auburn in 1960 as the Tigers went 8-2. Knee injuries and eventual surgeries ended the Long Island, N.Y., native's playing career. After graduating from Auburn in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in economics, Griffith stayed at Auburn as a graduate assistant coach to earn his MBA in management and finance in 1964.
"I saw Coach "Shug" Jordan at the field house, and when he stopped what he was doing and spent 30 minutes with me, I was just blown away," said Griffith describing his recruiting trip after traveling 975 miles from home. "Auburn back in those days would usually sign two or three guys from the New York-New Jersey area. All of us that came down, just loved it. The weather was great, the people were great, and the University was outstanding.
"The football program was awesome. When I was being recruited, Auburn was a National Champion, just having won the 1957 National Championship."
Griffith is a lifetime member of the Auburn Alumni Association and a member of the 2011 Donor Honor Roll, the 1856 Society, Ralph "Shug" Jordan Society and AU Research Advisory Council.
"Lee Griffith is an outstanding recipient for the Walter Gilbert Award," said Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs. "He is a former student-athlete who took what he learned at Auburn from his professors and coaches and applied it to the business world which has led to his successes in life. He took a chance on Auburn, coming from Long Island, and fell in love with the school like all of us."
Griffith progressed through numerous management accountabilities for Scott Paper Company, now known as Kimberly-Clark, a company that produces several household brands such as Kleenex, Kotex, Huggies, Cottonelle and Scott Products. After various sales, marketing, finance and operations responsibilities, Griffith was promoted to Corporate Vice President in 1987.
He became Chairman, President and CEO of Scott Paper Limited, now known as Kruger Products, Canada's leading distributor of sanitary tissue products. After spending more than two decades with Scott Paper Company, Griffith became President of Household Products of Sunbeam Corporation in 1998, where he was responsible for marketing, product development and operations.
"Through my athletic experience, I learned the value of coaching," said Griffith. "When people asked my title, I would say, `I'm a coach,' because I learned the importance of teaching, teamwork and providing leadership and working with people. I was fortunate to be surrounded with good people at all times. I always felt it was important to select a good team."
Living in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Griffith serves on countless boards and is currently the proud owner of Hidden Lakes Golf Club with his wife, Kathy. He is the President of The LBG Consulting Group, a business consulting firm that offers services to small and mid-size companies.
Griffith will be joined on the field when receiving the award by his wife, Kathy, oldest son Mike and high school friend and college roommate, Henno "Kiv" Kiviranna, also a former Auburn student-athlete.
Griffith is the 33rd recipient of the Walter Gilbert Award.
Walter Gilbert Award Recipients:
|1982||Thomas K. McGehee||Football|
|1984||Dr. David Middleton||Football|
|1985||William A. Fickling, Jr.||Basketball|
|1989||C.H. "Babe" McGehee||Football|
|1990||Billy Hitchcock||Baseball, Football|
|1991||Vince Dooley||Football, Basketball|
|1996||Richard Guthrie||Football, Track|
|1999||Dr. James E. Martin||Basketball|
|2006||R. Kenneth Johns||Football|
|2007||D. Gaines Lanier||Football|
|2011||Read Montague||Track & Field|
|2012||Dr. John Cochran||Football|