Rev. Griffin S. Smith, 73, who served seven years in prison for armed robbery and then became a Baptist minister and the president of Efforts From Ex-Convicts, a self-help organization for former felons, died of cancer Feb. 24 at the Washington Hospital Center.
In addition to his work with EFEC, of which he was an organizer, Mr. Smith was the founder and pastor of the Foundation Baptist Church. He also was a member of the Northwest Neighborhood Advisory Council, a trustee of the United Planning Organization, a director of the Washington Metropolitan Urban Coalition and the Ministers Conference of D.C., and a member of Mayor Marion Barry's D.C. Mental Health Advisory Council.
He was a founder of So Others Might Eat, which is known by the acronym SOME and which provides hot meals for the needy.
There was a time in Mr. Smith's life when such a career seemed entirely unlikely. In 1954, he went to prison in New Jersey on a conviction for armed robbery. But in 1961, he settled here and began a career in his church and in service to ex-convicts.
He started the Foundation Baptist Church and became a student at the Washington Baptist Theological Seminary, where he graduated. From 1961 to 1965, he made his living as a construction worker and from 1966 to 1970 he worked for the Washington Urban League. He became the president of EFEC in 1972.
Mr. Smith, who was called "The Rev," was a friend and colleague of the late Ralph Waldo (Petey) Greene, a convicted armed robber who became a notable community activist and radio personality. In 1966 they took a leading role in setting up EFEC for the purpose of helping ex-offenders stay on the right side of the law.
In 1970, the organization got a contract with the D.C. Corrections Department to operate a halfway house for felons. In 1975, it founded the EFEC Security Agency, which employes ex-convicts as security guards.
Mr. Smith was born in Culpeper, Va., and raised in Washington. Some years ago he received a pardon from the governor of New Jersey for his robbery conviction. He continued his work at EFEC and the Foundation Baptist Church until his death.
His marriage to Alberta Smith ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Frances M. Smith, whom he married in 1966, of Washington; a son by his first marriage, Leroy Smith of Washington; two stepdaughters, Rev. Faye Rindgo and Constance Anderson, and a stepson, Army Col. Frank Oakley, all of Washington; a granddaughter, and 12 stepgrandchildren.