AIHP Mourns the Passing of George Griffenhagen

Picture of George Griffenhagen

We are sad to report that longtime AIHP member George Griffenhagen passed away on November 21, 2019, at age 95. Mr. Griffenhagen had been an AIHP member since 1949 and had served in numerous leadership positions at the Institute, including President and Secretary, for more than 50 years between 1956 and 2010.

In September, AIHP honored Mr. Griffenhagen with the Robert P. Fischelis Award for his decades of support for the Institute and his many contributions to the field of the history of pharmacy. Mr. Griffenhagen received the award at the 44th International Congress for the History of Pharmacy in Washington, DC, on September 7.

In bestowing the award, AIHP’s Board of Directors cited Mr. Griffenhagen’s decades of service to the Institute, his role in raising the profile of AIHP within the pharmacy profession, and his many contributions to the field of pharmacy history.

W. Clarke Ridgway, AIHP’s President, offered the following tribute to Mr. Griffenhagen:

Pharmacy historians across the US and around the world today grieve the loss of one of the giants of the field. Throughout his long and distinguished career George Griffenhagen energetically promoted any and all facets of the history of his beloved profession. His encyclopedic knowledge of the tools of the apothecary has enlightened generations of students, pharmacists, curators, collectors, researchers and writers. His passion for disseminating an understanding the organizational, educational and legal development of the profession of pharmacy have inspired innumerable practitioners and historians for over seven decades. The membership and staff of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy mourn one of its greatest advocates and cherish the memories of his enthusiasm, knowledge and patriotism.

AIHP President George Griffenhagen in 1960
George Griffenhagen accepts the gavel as incoming AIHP President at the 1960 AIHP Annual Meeting. From left to right: Glenn Sonnedecker, George Griffenhagen, H. George Wolfe, and Alex Berman. (Photograph courtesy of the AIHP Kremers Reference Files).

A 1949 graduate of the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, Mr. Griffenhagen had a long and distinguished career as a pharmacist, editor, APhA executive, and historian of pharmacy. During his almost 40-year career at the American Pharmacists Association, he served in a variety of positions, including Managing Editor (1959-61) and Editor (1962-76) of the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association. He later served as APhA’s Director of International Relations. After his retirement in 1989, he was named as APhA’s Honorary President (1990-91). He was awarded the Remington Honor Medal in 1991 for his distinguished service to the pharmacy profession. He was also an honorary member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Throughout his long career, Mr. Griffenhagen actively pursued his deep interest in all aspects of the history of pharmacy. His research generated a steady 50-year stream of monographs, books and articles, starting with The Story of California Pharmacy (1950) and The Oregon Trail of Pharmacy (with William Felter in 1952), and continuing until 1999 with History of Drug Containers and Their Labels (with Mary Bogard). He received AIHP’s Edward Kremers Award in 1969 for a series of ten articles, entitled “Tools of the Apothecary,” published in 1956 in the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association. He was inducted into the International Academy for the History of Pharmacy on the basis of his many contributions to the history of pharmacy.

A memorial service for Mr. Griffenhagen will be held at the American Pharmacists Association on December 16. He will be buried in the Quantico Military Cemetery, in Quantico, Virginia.

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