Family and friends of Paul “Peanuts” Griffith commemorated his life and dedication to the Bit ‘N’ Spur Rodeo Club during a ceremony Monday morning.
Griffith spent long hours building the rodeo facilities in Tooele back in the 1990s and was lauded for his efforts. He was president of the club in 1993, but resigned when he was diagnosed with leukemia in 1995. He died on March 24, 1997 according to information provided by the club.
Members of the club dubbed the junior arena built by Griffith as the “Peanuts Griffith Memorial Arena.”
Welding students from Tooele Applied Technology Center and Tooele High School combined to plan, construct and erect the metal sign last week.
“I always told my grand-kids that Peanuts Griffith was a big deal, and they hardly took notice. Today you can see he was a big deal,” said Peanuts’ wife Carla Griffith during the ceremony.
“People loved Peanuts,” she said. “Our family members’ memories run so deep out here on these grounds. To us this ground out here just isn’t dirt, it’s sacred ground.”
Griffith said that when Peanuts decided to knock down some old shacks on the Bit ‘N’ Spur rodeo grounds to make for improved facilities, some of the old-timers were against it.
“They wanted to lock him up, it was quite a task,” she said. “But he was on a mission to improve the grounds.”
Peanuts’s friend Mike Quarnberg, who helped with some of the demolition, said he and Peanuts almost got thrown in jail because of it.
Friends related many instances where Peanuts went out of his way to help them.
“He was a true friend to all of you,” Griffith told the people at the ceremony.
Cindy Elton said the Bit ‘N’ Spur Club is 72 years old, and has endured because of volunteerism and people like Peanuts.
“We dedicate this arena in the memory of Peanuts who was generous with his time,” said Doug George in a dedicatory prayer. “When he set a goal, he finished it. He worked many hours to create a place where friends could gather to enjoy some of the things that Peanuts enjoyed — family, friends and horses.”
Elton said TATC welding instructor Dave Datteri was searching for ideas for a community project where his students and students from Coby Champney’s welding class at Tooele High School could do a project together.
“The objective was twofold: To make the students aware of careers in the welding industry and also to experience the satisfaction of contributing to the community,” Elton said. “That is when Dave Datteri contacted members of the Bit ‘N’ Spur Riding Club, and the Peanuts sign project was launched. It was designed by TATC student Kyle Maloney.”
For two years the club had planned on having a sign made and placed over the entrance gate of the small practice arena and have a dedication ceremony for the person responsible for building the arena — Paul “Peanuts” Griffith,” Elton said.