The Outer Banks has lost one of its most celebrated residents.
Griffith, who started his acting career with The Lost Colony and honed
his comedy routine during midnight gatherings at a local Shriner’s
Club, died Tuesday morning at his Roanoke Island home. His 86th
birthday was on June 1.
is best known as Andy Taylor, the lovable sheriff in The Andy Griffith
Show, which aired from 1960 to1968, and later as the lead role in
But he continued to make movies, albums and even an acclaimed music video well into his 80s.
his tendency to avoid the public while on the Outer Banks, Griffith
made substantial contributions to the community, most notably as one of
the founders of the Outer Banks Community Foundation.
Greene, who met Griffith in 1953 when they were both in the cast of The
Lost Colony, said he remembers a call 30 years ago from David Stick,
the late Outer Banks historian and author, about getting together with
Griffith and some prominent Outer Banks businessmen. The men all knew
each other, he said, but they were puzzled why Stick wanted the meeting
“I thought, something great is going to come out of this,” Greene said.
it turns out, in the spring of 1982, Stick had finished an interview
with Griffith when the actor asked about ways to give back to the
community for encouraging him when he first started his acting career.
Stick mentioned the idea of starting a foundation, and it took off from
there, with Ray White, Martin Kellogg, George Crocker and Jack Adams
also on board.
The Foundation today has about $9 million in assets and has awarded more than $2 million in grants and scholarships.
only did the foundation bind Griffith and Greene, 87, “forever,” Greene
said, but the actor frequently extended himself to help him, like
writing an introduction to his book, “Reflections of the Outer Banks,”
and lending his fame to the Christmas Shop’s summer stock theater.
“He was very generous,” Greene said. “He was a good friend.”
his later years, Griffith mostly stayed behind the gate of his 70-acre
estate with an expansive view of the Roanoke Sound. Friends say he
appeared content and found joy in his flower gardens.
Deputy Steve Hoggard of the Dare County Sheriff’s Office said that
Emergency Medical Services was called at about 7 a.m. to his home on
the north end of the island. Griffith was laid to rest at his home
later that morning.
Bankers overall were respectful of Griffith’s desire for privacy,
although some complained that he could be downright unfriendly if he
was encountered in passing. Even though Griffith liked to keep to
himself, he would come out to public events on occasion and would be warm and welcoming, and locals would be happy to see him but seldom harassed him.
2001, he was honored at the 67th Daniels Family Reunion in Wanchese,
where he was joined by then-U.S. Sen. John Edwards. Griffith also was
known to maintain a close relationship with former state Sen. Marc
Basnight, the powerful Senate leader from Manteo and his Roanoke Island
the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge opened in 2002, Griffith’s 1935
Packard convertible sedan, with Griffith and his wife Cindi seated
inside, was the first vehicle to make the 5-mile crossing.
his involvement in the fight against Food Lion likely earned him the
most local credibility. In 2001, he spoke in opposition to the
supermarket chain building a store in Manteo, siding with those who
wanted to maintain a small-town atmosphere.
Food Lion gave up and decided instead to build in Nags Head, right next
to locally-owned Seamark Foods, where Griffith was frequently seen
shopping. Griffith made a commercial for Seamark and gave them
permission to keep running it. At about the same time, intentional or
not, Food Lion began running its commercial using the famous whistling
theme song from The Andy Griffith Show.
Griffith never said a word publicly about it, and Seamark Foods has since gone of out business.
in Mt. Airy, N.C., Griffith would return to his Roanoke Island home to
escape the hustle and bustle of Hollywood and New York before settling
in permanently, according to a profile by Mal Vincent of The
while he was studying with the University of North Carolina Playmakers,
Griffith was in “The Lost Colony” from 1947 through 1953. In his last
season, he played Sir Walter Raleigh.
Saturdays at midnight, Greene said, Griffith would go to the Shriner’s
Club that was then at Whalebone Junction and work on eight or nine of
his standup comedy routines, including the famous “What it was, was
loved what he did,” Greene recalled, “but you don’t think, ‘Boy, he’s
headed to the big time.’ But when it happened, nobody was surprised.”
said his relationship with Griffith didn’t change after the actor shot
to fame. In fact, he said, he fondly remembers Griffith teasing him
mercilessly about the folly of opening his Christmas Shop, which is
still in business.
“He went around telling everybody ‘Eddie Greene is crazy. He’s going to lose his shirt!’ ” Greene said, laughing.
“The Lost Colony” costume shop burned down in 2007, Griffith donated
his Sir Walter Raleigh sword to help restore the costume supply. And
when the new shop reopened, Griffith cut the ribbon and stayed at the
reception for a little, sitting on a chair greeting people and grinning
his trademark mega-watt smile that never dimmed with age.
of Griffith’s final odes to the Outer Banks was a music video he made
in 2008 with country music star Brad Paisley. Wearing a flannel shirt
and overalls, Griffith appears as an other-worldly adviser to Paisley
as they sit on a bench at a mall, which was shot at Tanger Outlet in
Paisley makes some calls on his cell phone, Griffith appears out of
nowhere and asks him in his folksy voice, “You waitin’ on a woman?” As
the video cuts between scenes of Paisley singing and Griffith, it soon
becomes apparent that Griffith is no longer of this world and is
waiting to be joined by his beloved, telling Paisley he’s been “waitin’
on a woman” since 1952.
the last scene, Griffith, dressed in white, sits alone on a bench on an
empty Pea Island beach. “Honey, take your time,” he says, “cause I
don’t mind waitin’ on a woman.”
on a Woman” won Video of the Year at the County Music Awards and was
nominated for the Video of the Year at the 44th Annual Academy of
Country Music Awards.