Sheriff Taylor leaves lasting legacy

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sheriff Andy Taylor passed away last week.

That’s not entirely accurate. Andy Griffith, the actor that played Sheriff Andy Taylor on the “Andy Griffith Show,” passed away last week. Griffith, who also played a slow-talking country lawyer named Ben Matlock, was a television producer, a Grammy Award winning Southern gospel singer and a Tony Award nominee. But for me, he will always be Sheriff Andy Taylor, and I’m not afraid to admit that I was saddened by the Sheriff’s passing. While I shouldn’t have been surprised by his death, after all he was 86, heroes just aren’t supposed to die.

And Andy Taylor was a hero to many.

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He rode herd over the Town of Mayberry with just the right touch, showing kindness and respect to everyone from the Otis, the town drunk, to simple-minded gas station attendant Gomer Pyle, to his high-strung deputy, Barney Fife.

He enforced the law with common sense and a grin, and almost never needed to use a gun.

Andy Taylor was the moral compass of Mayberry, and a source of wisdom for the thousands of people who tuned in every week to watch the show in its heyday and for those, like me, who have seen almost all 249 episodes decades after they were filmed.

Nearly every episode included a moral lesson, and the laid-back, guitar-picking Sheriff was the teacher. Whether he was explaining a hard truth to his freckle-faced son Opie, or indulging his excitable deputy, there was always something we could learn from Andy. He made Mayberry a better place, and those of us that peered into his little town through a sheet of glass are better for having “known” Andy Taylor.

And that, more than anything, is Sheriff Taylor’s legacy.