Updated: Tuesday, 03 Jul 2012, 11:08 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 03 Jul 2012, 5:00 PM EDT
MANTEO, N.C. (WAVY) - For years, Andy Griffith's voice would greet theater-goers at Lost Colony, but on July 3, a recorded message of his will not be played and the lights will be dimmed in his memory.
"He credits Lost Colony with his real training and that's quite a claim, I think, because here is a man who not only succeeded on stage in both comedy and musicals, but he was successful as a recording artist,
he was successful in movies and certainly on television," Lost Colony Marketing Director Charles Massey said.
Massey shared many memories with Griffith dating back to 1947 when Griffith started acting.
"Like so many of us, Andy came to Lost Colony when he was a student in college," Massey said.
He began with modest roles, playing Soldier #1 his first year and Soldier #2 his second year. From there, Griffith made a bigger mark on stage.
"In 1949 he became Sir Walter Raleigh and he played that role until 1953," Massey said.
An integral part of this theater community, Massey said it was here that Griffith laid out at least one big dream for his future.
"He often used to walk on the beach behind the theater and when he was out walking one day, he saw a house and a piece of property, and he said, 'If I ever make it, I'm going to buy that,' and that's where he died this morning peacefully at his home," Massey said.
Massey said Griffith even played clubs on Roanoke Island as a standup comedian.
"But you know what he really always wanted to be was an opera singer and he did one Broadway musical," Massey said.
Massey said Griffith and his talents will not be forgotten.
"Humanity, humility and a multi-talented individual who pushed a lot of boundaries and entertained a lot of people," Massey said. "if nothing else, when you finish your life, you can say you made a lot of people happy and you made a lot of people laugh that's pretty darn good."
Massey said to him, Griffith was the first citizen of Manteo.
On the afternoon on July 3, people placed flowers outside Griffith's home in his memory. Many say he was a private man who did not want to be thought of as a celebrity in Manteo, not even at one of his favorite restaurants nearby.
Griffith's name will be spelled out tonight outside of Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe in Nags Head, but for years, many restaurant-goers had no idea the actor was dining inside.
"At this point in his life, he did not really like to be out in the public, so what we did for him was we had a backroom that sat about 10 people and he would walk through the kitchen door and we had a hallway that went back to the room and we actually called it the Andy Griffith room," Chef Bud Gruninger said.
The room still exists, but now it's a little bit bigger and no longer accessible by the kitchen.
"He and Cindy would come in, and I'd be behind the line and he would stop and say, 'Bud, what kind of fish can you make me? What do you got tonight?'" Gruninger said.
Gruninger said Griffith mostly requested fish and didn't have much of sweet tooth.
"He was a very down to earth man, just as pleasant as could be," Gruninger said.
On occasion, Gruninger would prepare food and take it to Griffith's home or his wife would come pick it up.
"When he was in town in Manteo he did not want to be in the spotlight," Gruninger said. " I guess he had enough of that on the West Coast."
Chef Gruninger said he hasn't cooked for Griffith in two or three years, but did run into him in an unlikely place about nine months ago - the dentist's office.
"He was a pleasure to cook for," Gruninger said.
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