Farewell, Andy Griffith

I suppose in real life Andy had his flaws; he was married three times, divorced twice. He started school aiming to be a preacher, but changed his major to music, which he was quite good at as a bluegrass and gospel guitarist and singer.

Much later in his career it was revealed that, off-camera, he and Aunt Bea didn’t get along very well.

In most of his roles he plays a down-home country boy because that’s what he was; born an only child on June 1, 1926 (same day and year as Marylyn Monroe) in Mt. Airy, N.C.; he slept in dresser drawers at relatives’ homes until his parents could afford to buy a house.

Growing up, he learned to use a flair for comedy his father had passed on to him to overcome his poorness–he made his peers laugh so they didn’t judge him.

Along his career he was a writer, producer, director, actor, musician; he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 by Republican President George W. Bush. (Andy was a Democrat.)

But to me, all that real-life stuff is unimportant. What I will always remember is Andy Griffith, sheriff of Mayberry, father of Opie.

What is important to me is what Andy represented–a good man doing his best.

I realize now that I grew up trying to be like Andy. I wanted to be known as a good man–all my faults and foibles aside, in the final analysis of my life, I wanted to be known as a good man.

Andy’s world was very different from mine, very different from the world today; but in many ways it was the same. He grew up during World War II, Korea, Vietnam. Bad things were happening around him.

But somehow he managed to be consistent, steady as the Rock of Gibraltar, always ready with homespun wisdom, solutions to any problem, ready to fight injustice.

As I think about it, he did it because he was always able to take complex problems and break them down, get to the root.

He kept things simple.

He was a good man doing his best.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, who also served until recently in municipal parks and recreation, lives in Peachtree City, Ga., and can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email cwo4usmc@comcast.net.


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3 comments on “Farewell, Andy Griffith

  1. Bernie Rangel on said:

    Thanks for the memories ANDY. I think this show was preparing us (fathers) for our present day scenarios. We should have recognized the father/son relationship in life is meaningless. Thanks Randy

  2. Billy Moore on said:

    After reading your article I got to thinking about it. Andy and Ron Howard really did have a positive influence on my life and the way I looked at things. I met Andy one time in North Carolina and he came across as a genuine nice guy. He will be missed by my generation. But if we can get our kids and grandkids to watch, his show and good life lessons live on.

    • Randy on said:

      Billy: You are fortunate to have met him, wish I’d had the opportunity. I believe with him what you saw is what you got. He was so consistent in his roles that I think that was his personality. Rare that an actor can keep that over all those years. Yes, we should make watching Andy Griffith required stuff in schools:-) Thanks for the comments…

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