For months, Pastor Michael “Grizzy” Griswold of Kansas City, Missouri, fought to survive a COVID-19 infection that doctors initially told his wife he would beat. Two weeks ago, the Macedonia Baptist Church teen pastor died at the age of 39.
The pastor’s wife, Venus Griswold, told The Kansas City Star that when her husband began his battle with the virus about five months ago, a doctor told her, “he’s gonna be fine.” That outlook, she said, did not last very long as his condition quickly worsened.
“I had just had a conversation with his doctor. He was like, ‘he’s gonna be fine, he’s young, he’s going to be fine,’” Venus Griswold told the publication. “The next day, I walk in and his oxygen levels are just tanking, and so at that point, it was the decision. Do you put him on life support? Or do you let him go? And so I put him on life support.”
The disease ravaged her husband’s lungs as she fought to keep him alive with a lung transplant. She said her husband was able to get on the list for a transplant, but he died on June 6 before doctors could get him the help he needed.
His family and friends remembered his life in a touching memorial service on Sunday.
“Grizzy’s impact was so magnanimous that I’m telling you 20 years from now, this church will remember Grizzy,” Macedonia Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor John L. Brooks told the Kansas City Star. “I’m telling you, older people and younger people.”
He recalled Griswold as an inspiring figure who enjoyed making people feel better in life.
Malcolm Griswold, the late pastor’s young brother, recalled how he started taking care of his siblings at the age of 12, and how the pressure of that responsibility caused him to become a drug dealer until he found faith in his 20s and turned his life around.
“When I think of Mike and his whole transformation story, I witness the power of God saving Michael from his life from his own lifestyle,” Malcolm Griswold recalled. “Michael would come to parenting conferences with my mother, he would come and eat lunch at my middle school with me and my brother … When I think of Michael, I think of a father.”
Brooks said Griswold treated the teenagers in his ministry with similar care.
“He spent time with them, corrected them, loved them, he invested in them,” Brooks said. “He helped the parents, went to schools, went to their events. He was there with them to keep them off the street, and hundreds upon hundreds of teenagers' lives have changed because Michael Grizzy Griswold invested his life in their life.”
Along with his wife, siblings and extended family, Griswold leaves behind four children, Mi’Keycia Griswold, Myaun Boyd, Tristan Chandler and Michael Andre Griswold Jr., according to his obituary.