Longtime manager of Liberty Hall dies

Lawrence has lost a key figure in its downtown entertainment scene.

Tim Griffith, 50, longtime employee and manager at Liberty Hall, 642 Mass., died Thursday at his home from heart failure.

On Sunday, stunned employees at the hall were still trying to deal with Griffith's death and the realization they would never see him again.

"It's been pretty hard," said Gennelle Denneny, who manages the concession stand. "We've been friends for a long time. People have had a hard time dealing with this."

Doug Redding, manager of the hall's video store, said Griffith inspired loyalty among his employees because they knew he would always back them up.

"He wasn't always the easiest person to work for, but he was always the easiest person to love," Redding said. "He's someone I'm proud to have known."

Griffith began working at the hall in the early 1970s when it was known as the Lawrence Opera House. As the venue's general manager he was responsible for all operations and employees in the video store and movie theater, as well as for booking music and wedding events.

He usually walked to work, and to those who knew the downtown scene, he was the face of Liberty Hall.

"He knew everything there was to know about Liberty Hall," Denneny said. "He knew little things about everyone and he would ask about you."

Denneny also recalled how Griffith found out that an employee's mother was in the hospital and sent flowers to her. It was that kind of generosity that other employees also remembered.

"He was the first boss I ever had who bought me dinner, and he did it on a regular basis," said Matt Toplikar, who noted that Griffith bought dinner for other employees, too.

"He was a very private person and didn't talk about himself, but he always asked about you," Toplikar said.

Kristen Soper also was struck by Griffith's generosity. He was willing to lend employees money if they were coming up short at the end of the month. "All you had to do was ask," she said.

"Everybody always knew him," Soper said. "People were always asking about him. Everybody I talked to knew him."

Cards are on a table near the hall's concession stand for people to sign or write a sympathy note concerning Griffith. Griffith will be cremated; no formal public service is scheduled at this time.

Liberty Hall employees said a celebration of his life would take place later, probably in December; details will be announced later.

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