Prominent local real estate broker and community leader, Vicki Griffith, passed away last week leaving behind a legacy of service.
Griffith, 65, passed away on Aug. 19 at her home. Born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1953, Griffith was raised in Alabama before moving to Tooele in 1980.
Griffith’s family and friends paid tribute to Griffith’s contribution to their lives at a funeral service held on Saturday.
At the time of her death, Griffith was active in real estate sales in Tooele County and had been active for over 30 years. She owned her own brokerage for the last 22 years, first as Prudential Utah Real Estate, which later became Premier Utah Real Estate.
“The business community in Tooele County is really going to miss her and her ongoing support and advocacy of Tooele County business,” said Jared Hamner, executive director of the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.
“Back in the early 90s, the Chamber was kind of floundering,” Hamner said. “Griffith found out about tourism tax funds and bugged the state to give some of those funds to the county. She called the people at the state until they finally gave in. Then she worked with the county to get some of those funds for the chamber to promote Tooele County. That’s when the Chamber added ‘and Tourism’ to its name.”
Griffith applied the same tenacity to several other community needs in Tooele County, according to Hamner.
She helped organize the first Women’s Shelter, the Tooele County Children’s Justice Center, the Community Resource Center for families and individuals facing homelessness, the Transitional Housing program, and the Tooele Valley Community Cooperative.
“Vicki had a knack for getting people involved,” Hamner said.
In 2008, the Tooele Transcript Bulletin completed an informal study of the county’s power structure by examining cross connections on governing bodies and membership in Tooele County governments, civic groups, community boards, and non-profit organizations.
Griffith emerged as one of the top 5 connected people in the county. At that time she was on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, on the Pine Canyon Planning Commission, was the president of the Tooele County Board of Realtors, on the board of the Tooele Valley Community Cooperative, a member of the Tooele Valley Kiwanis Club, and a volunteer for the Tooele County Corrections Center.
She has also been affiliated with the Lady Elks, the Utah Association of Realtors, and the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center.
Griffith ran for public office at least twice, but did not win.
In 2010 she took on incumbent Republican County commissioner Bruce Clegg, running as a Democrat in the general election.
In 2014 she challenged Republican State Sen. Daniel Thatcher from West Valley City. Running as a Republican this time, she sought the party’s nomination for the State Senate District 12 seat, which included part of Tooele County.
She won the straw poll at the Tooele County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner, but lost to Thatcher at the state convention.
“I just looked around and realized a lot of my friends are Republicans and I have a lot in common with them,” she told the Transcript Bulletin about her change in party affiliation.
Griffith worked with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts for the last 22 years, oftentimes taking phone calls late in the night from someone struggling with addiction.
Not long after her husband, Andy Stetz, posted on his Facebook page that, “my beautiful wife Vicki passed yesterday afternoon,” the page was filled with condolences from people touched by Griffith’s service.
In a 2008 interview with the Transcript Bulletin, Griffith admitted that her initial involvement with the Chamber of Commerce was in part to help her business.
“It has gone way beyond that now,” she said. “Our community grew so fast our social infrastructure could not keep up. There are several things that are absent from our county that we need, like a detox center, transitional housing for inmates, shelter for the homeless, and affordable apartment-style housing for middle to low income families. These are the kind of things I am working for now.”
Involvement in the community has its own kind of payback, according to Griffith.
“You go out to eat and your waitress turns out to be a girl you helped through drug rehab and she is all clean and working hard to support herself,” she said. “I have to admit it does feel good.”