From an editorial Wednesday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:
The day had to come, but somehow, North Carolinians still hoped Andy Griffith would live forever. This son of Mount Airy and resident of the Outer Banks died Tuesday at the age of 86. He had so long been in our homes, in that classic of television, The Andy Griffith Show, portraying Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, that we felt he might at any moment come over, pull up a chair on the porch, strum that old Martin and play Get Along Home, Cindy, Cindy. Just for us.
And he really sort of did that, in the legendary show about Mayberry, and in Matlock, another long-running program about a Southern lawyer. His shows are still in reruns, and probably will be forever. And now and then, Griffith took a turn in movies, giving what many thought was an Oscar-caliber performance in A Face in the Crowd, and much later playing a cafe owner in a small film, Waitress. He was so good in that movie that he got a standing ovation. From the other actors.
Though he lived some years at least part of the time in Hollywood, he was as much a part of North Carolina as dogwood blossoms and sandy soil and a cardinals song. In his later years, he never liked to leave home much, and some coastal vacationers claimed to have spotted him in a post office or a book store near Manteo, making a little chit-chat. Not a man of pretense, he lived modestly, certainly for a movie star, with his wife, Cindi, who survives him.
Griffith was born in North Carolina, raised in the foothills of Mount Airy and educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he tried the acting life in the Playmakers Theater. He played Sir Walter Raleigh in The Lost Colony, a role he loved.
In the early 1950s, he recorded What It Was, Was Football, which helped launch him. He worked steadily as a comedian and actor in Hollywood, but always, always, he came home to North Carolina, finally to live.
And as a native son, a hesitant Griffith nevertheless felt obliged to speak out in the civic realm, supporting Democratic candidates for governor, and in 2008, Barack Obama. He was, after all, a sophisticated, well-educated person who took his obligations as a citizen seriously.
For North Carolinians, the thing that may have endeared him to them the most was that at a time when Southerners were universally portrayed as bumpkins on television and in movies, Griffith played his Sheriff Taylor with dignity and wisdom. It was, perhaps, his bow to his home state and his fellow citizens, insisting that they be seen affectionately, as they really were, not reflecting a stereotype.
Once asked what the key to the success of his classic show was, the sheriff didnt hesitate. Love, he said, meaning the way the actors felt about each other, and about the show itself. It also was how they, and millions of others, felt about Andy Griffith.