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Andy Griffith’s Legacy

My heart fell this morning when I heard the news that the beloved actor, Andy Griffith, had passed. Through the cold Chicago winters, and hot summers as well, my sisters and I would park in front of the TV when the The Andy Griffith Show would come on.  Decades later, I remember telling my daughter to turn off the TV to get to sleep for school as she begged for one more half hour because Andy was on. I usually gave her that half hour.

The Andy Griffith Show had a kind of timeless humor. For a brief time we are transported to that little town in North Carolina, where the characters welcome us to a simpler time. We can be guaranteed a few laughs and the world rights itself in a half hour. Is it any wonder we’re still drawn to it?

The series incorporated many of Andy Griffith’s memories of his home town of Mount Airy, North Carolina. That’s where we find Andy living with his parents, Carl and Geneva Griffith in the 1930  and 1940  U.S. federal censuses.

Like his character, he came from humble roots. His father worked in a furniture factory, as a laborer in 1930 and band saw operator in 1940. His salary of $850 per year was enough that the family owned their home at 197 Haymore Street in Mount Airy.

By 1940, Andy’s six years in school had already eclipsed the education levels of both of his parents, and he would go on to finish high school in Mount Airy. Five days before his eighteenth birthday, on 2 June 1944, he registered for the World War II draft.

Having just graduated from high school at the time of the draft, he doesn’t have a job at the time, but soon he was off to college where he was active in music and drama. His yearbook shows he was president of the Men’s Glee Club in 1947 at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

He was also a member of the musical fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha at UNC.

His education and talent in music, comedy and drama paid dividends that will benefit generations to come. Andy Griffith made us feel like he was our next door neighbor and we could sit down with him and forget about the troubles in the world.  His legacy is the smile that comes to our lips we recall a more innocent time – a time when humor was less about shock value and more about uplifting our spirits.

About Juliana Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 15 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

26 comments

Comments
1 Marlene PankotaiJuly 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Good Bye Andy we watched you so much and I learned to love you on that show.

2 Becky DaughertyJuly 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

The life of Andy Griffith will be remembered by all that had him as part of their family for so many years. Our prayers are with Andy’s family as they go thru a very sad loss. The whole world loved him but his family loved him in a different way. May God be with Andy’s loved ones. Goodnight Andy

3 Jane Stone HernandezJuly 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm

What a nice overview of his life! Thanks so much for doing that! Andy was always front and center in our house, too! May he forever Rest in Peace now.

4 WhitneyJuly 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I loved visiting Mt. Airy, NC aka “Mayberry” a couple years ago. Love the Andy Griffith museum there. Didn’t know he was in Phi Mu Alpha! I attend school at UNC Greensboro and am a fellow Greek.

5 Angela EisertJuly 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm

It means so much that Andy’s life was described by Ancestry. Thank you for putting this together with input from his family.

6 Jeanne Trego SmithJuly 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Our family loved watching the Andy Griffith show. It portrayed the way life was in the “good old days” and the way it could and should be now. Letting go of unnecessary work and spending more time with family and friends, enjoying the simple, everyday pleasures of life. Andy gave us those moments of “relaxation and humor” and will be greatly missed.

7 Carolyn Digh GriffinJuly 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I was so sad when I heard Andy had passed away. He made his mark on America and put the Old North State on the map. I visited Mt Airy last year and those folks love him. It is evident that he had an impact on that little mountain town. He will be missed.

8 Denise HelmsJuly 3, 2012 at 4:54 pm

His NC history mirrors my family’s in some ways -Greensboro not far from Mt Airy. Love him like family.

9 Myrna McGhieJuly 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I am deeply saddened at hearing that our beloved Andy Griffith passed. At the same time, I feel so blessed that I have so many joyous memories of him that go back to my childhood. I still watch the Andy Griffith Show and Matlock on the Hallmark Channel and never get tired of watching. I hope they never stop showing his shows. I pray for his family to be comforted, and for all of us who will miss him so very much. Thank you, Ancestry.com for giving us this Andy William’s legacy. You are much appreciated.

10 Verne L. ThayerJuly 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm

We need more Andy’s and Mayberry’s. Oh to find a place like that. Sad but if there was such a place we would ruin it anyway. Better to have the memory of Andy and how he made us feel. And for me the feeling is more acute in todays environment. My prayers go out to Andy’s family.

11 ConnieJuly 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

I was saddened to hear of Andy’s passing. Thanks for this page Ancestry.com. He was an important part of America’s entertainment.

12 CarolJuly 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm

He was a good (not great) actor; it was a good and successful show. But, gosh let’s not forget that he was an actor. He wasn’t REALLY from Mayberry. And, I understand he was a grouchy bear to work with. Let’s save the over the top accolades for heros. Sorry to be a wet blanket, I just don’t believe in making a person into something they’re not because they died.

13 KariJuly 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Good memories.

14 KayJuly 3, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Thank you for such a great tribute. I feel as if a family member has passed. Loved the show, love the man.

15 SherryJuly 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I grew up watching Andy and all the crew in Mayberry. I am sad to hear of his passing, but this is a fine tribute to him. I have been through his hometown Mt.Airy.I always wanted to live in Mayberry. My prayers are with his family.

16 KirstenJuly 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Andy’s Mayberry was in my mind a southern version of my northern hometown–Newberry RFD. Everybody knew everybody and we didn’t have dial (rotary) telephones either. Just an operator named “Romaine”.

Even better than the TV show was a monologue I have heard several times. The title was, if I remember it correctly, was: “What it Was, Was Football”. Andy at his best!

17 GloriaJuly 4, 2012 at 5:49 am

Sad day for America and most familys. A decent man and shows great story lines family shows and still funny without all the sexural over tunes of todays shows. He will be greatly missed

18 Peggy JohnstonJuly 4, 2012 at 8:31 am

So sad to see him go. He was like our T.V. dad . . he reminded us of our own dad, country to the core, a Police Officer as well. My dad also gave firm, but caring discipline. We still love watching the Andy Griffith Show set in Mayberry. Thanks for filling us in on his journey before the shows.

19 Jerry WoodinJuly 4, 2012 at 11:56 am

As a fatherless young man I found Andy and Opie very much my ideal. While I grew up with and without TV at times I found the reruns very nurturing. Thanks for your blog.

20 Susan RyderJuly 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I remember The Andy Griffith show and my children too. It was a much simpler time in life. Andy’s legacy lives on through us. He will be truly missed.

21 kathy fabreJuly 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm

thanks for sharing this. andy griffith was like the uncle we all wished we had. RIP dear man. you were truly loved.

22 Mary LeachJuly 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Andy Griffith You will be missed. He was one of the great one. It was great setting down with the little ones you never had to worry about the rating with Andy. So Thanks for the memories. Gods Speed Andy.

23 Linda JohnsonJuly 6, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Thank you so much for this timeline of Andy Griffith’s life. He was so beloved by his fans. RIP, Andy.

24 Beverly BrownJuly 7, 2012 at 9:30 am

Thank Ancestry for gathering all this wonderful information on Andy and sharing it with all of us. All of us will miss him dearly. His shows reminded us of how life use to be and in some way helped keep some of us grounded. I had the wonderful privilege of meeting Andy as he was shooting a scene for the Matlock series. I worked at Brunswick Cove Nursing Center located in Wilmington, N.C. and they used the facility for one of the series being filmed. He was awesome and down to earth. The patients loved and adored him. My husband also had the privilege of meeting him as he was crossing a street going into a restaurant. He stopped and shook my husbands hand and chatted and signed an autograph on a newspaper for my husband. That made his day, because he just loved watching all of his shows. Thank you Andy for touching our lives.

25 Chicago Moving CompanyJuly 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm

It was a much simpler time in life. Andy’s legacy lives on through us. He will be truly missed.Thank you for putting this together with input from his family.

26 local movers in ChicagoJanuary 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Sad day for America and most familys. A decent man and shows great story lines family shows and still funny without all the sexural over tunes of todays shows. He will be greatly missed

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