Corey Griffin was ecstatic when he called his father Friday night from Nantucket Island. The 27-year-old had just raised $100,000 to fight ALS in honor of his friend, Pete Frates, whose struggle with the disease turned the Ice Bucket Challenge into a viral sensation.
“He was the happiest guy in the world,” Corey’s father, Robert Griffin, said of his son “He called me last night and told me he was in paradise.”
Hours later, at about 2 a.m. Saturday, Griffin dove into the water from the “Juice Guys” building on Straight Wharf, according to a statement from Nantucket police. He floated to the surface, then he sank. He did not come up again.
An off-duty Nantucket lifeguard named Colin Perry who happened to be working nearby made several rescue dives and recovered Griffin from the bottom of the harbor, according to the police statement. Officers tried to resuscitate him until the fire department took him to Nantucket Cottage Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 3 a.m.
“He cared about everybody else,” said Robert Griffin, president of the New England area for Cushman & Wakefield, a large commercial real estate firm. “He will be missed.”
Corey Griffin’s family and friends said he was in Nantucket to do more fund-raising for ALS research. Robert Griffin said his son was tortured by his friend Frates’s ordeal with the incurable neurodegenerative disease, and had urged him to come visit Frates in their Friday night phone call.
“He was so happy to be able to help him,” Robert Griffin said.
Corey Griffin’s friends and family described him as a fun-loving, athletic, and generous young man. At family gatherings, he was always at the center of a swarm of children, busy organizing wiffle ball or Frisbee games. He was patient, funny, a good role model.
According to Boston College, he was a college hockey player for the Eagles on the 2006-07 squad before transferring to Babson College the following year.
He was also very driven: He had worked for Bain Capital and recently moved to New York City to work for a finance company called RANE.
“As a business person, he was outstanding. It’s a loss. He was a rising star,” said Bryan Koop, a close family friend who said he watched Corey grow into a young leader. “He was a giver. He gave back at every opportunity. Whether it was his friends or the community.”
Griffin’s father founded Champions for Children’s, which is the biggest annual fund-raising event for Boston Children’s Hospital. Following his father’s example, Corey Griffin helped launch a weekend hockey tournament called the NHL Alumni Pro-Am for Boston Children’s Hospital, Koop said.
“He shared his father’s passion for Children’s Hospital,” Koop said.
Corey was the oldest of three children; his brother, Michael, is 25, and his sister, Casey, is 23. Both looked up to him, said his best friend since childhood, Anthony Aiello, 28. The family was close, and traveled all over together. Just last week, Aiello said, they returned from a trip to Montana.
“We went fly fishing, horseback riding, whitewater rafting,” said Aiello, who also went on the trip. “He had a blast.”
Aiello grew up with Griffin, playing hockey and golf and going to the beach.
“I just can’t stress enough that he was the greatest best friend, brother, and son anyone could ask for,” Aiello said. “He lived life to the fullest and everybody loved him. And every time he walked into a room, he put a smile on everybody’s face.”