Friday, February 14, 2014

Ralph Waite: It was time to leave, but perhaps this isn’t the end


Last night, as I was doing the customary things I always do before going to bed, I came here to turn off my computer and saw this headline on my screen:  “Ralph Waite dead at 85.”

It took me by surprise (as most deaths do with most people), but later as I lay in the darkness, feeling a real sense of loss for someone I didn’t even know outside of his role as John Walton on “The Waltons”, I tried to put it into logical perspective and just couldn’t.  Someone I felt both love and respect for, and have known for many years is gone.

For some reason, this news reminded me of one of my favorite episodes of “The Waltons”.  In it’s seventh season, it seemed the end was near; Richard Thomas (who played John Boy) had left a couple years prior for greener pastures.  Shortly after, Ellen Corby (who played Grandma Walton) suffered a stroke and was also gone (but did return a year or so later in a handful of episodes, in a non speaking role).  Will Geer (who played Grandpa) died in the spring of ‘78, and Michael Learned (who played Olivia, the mother) left the show to star in her own series “Nurse”.   Ralph Waite was the only adult left.

The producers of the show saw the writing on the wall, and assumed CBS had no choice but to end the series.  They wrote a final episode called “Founders Day”, which aired in March 1979 and concluded with Earl Hamner, the creator & narrator of the show, delivering the loveliest goodbye I’ve ever seen.  (I included it below.)

But that was not the end; in a move that surprised everyone, CBS asked them to continue producing more episodes.  I’d like to think such possibilities happen elsewhere as well.

Rest in peace, John Walton


  1. The thing I always say to other people about you is that you're such a decent and good person. For me, I know that kindness in general is so important thing to you, that you miss it in people a lot of time, and that your heart truly goes out to anyone who is vulnerable in whatever way. That Walton clip could be corny but it was really touching and I liked that it mattered to YOU so much.

  2. Thanks very much for the kind words Shawn, your words and feelings will always mean the most to me :)


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