Born in Wales in 1885, Joe came to Canada when he was 18. After serving his country in the First World War, he became the entire department of Physical Education at the University of Saskatchewan in 1919. For the next 32 years his coaching ability in track and field and in swimming had a great impact on the varsity athletic programs. For 11 years, his swimming teams were unbeaten.
In 1936 and 1948, he was asked to serve as a Canadian Olympic team coach. Joe organized the first provincial high school track and field meet. The facility, which has been used for national and world-class meets was named Griffiths Stadium in his honour. Joe helped shape the Saskatoon Playground Association. In his lifetime he was made a life member of the Royal Life Saving Society and received the honour award of the Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
He was installed in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1967.