Stars, family
recall comedian’s humor, generosity
by Cindy
-The Tennessean-May 12, 2
Friends including Ray Stevens, Ralph
Emery, Barbara and Irlene Mandrell, and LuLu Roman, along with about 150
additional friends, fans and family members spent Friday afternoon at
Westminster Presbyterian Church on West End to remember actor-comedian George “Goober”
, who died Sunday after an illness.
Mr. Lindsey is best known for playing Goober Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show and for his 20-year stretch on Hee Haw. However, Mr. Lindsey
also appeared in Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Twilight Zone and voiced several animated Disney
Organ music filled the sanctuary as guests filed in, a few
pausing at Mr. Lindsey’s closed casket to touch the white fabric draped
across the top and say a parting word to their friend.
After the service began, the next hour-and-a-half was filled
with memories, songs, Scripture and prayer.
Mr. Lindsey’s adult children, Camden and George Jr.,
and his companion, Anne Wilson, were there as friends Keith Bilbrey, a longtime
disc jockey at WSM, television host Emery, Hee Haw producer Sam Lovullo and Terry Pace,
who worked with Mr. Lindsey to promote his charity work at the University of
Northern Alabama, shared stories and read notes from several of the
actor’s high-profile friends who couldn’t attend the service.
Bilbrey read a letter from Andy Griffith in which the actor talked about his
love of Mr. Lindsey, his respect for his talent and admitted Mr. Lindsey was a
better “joke teller” than Griffith.
“I’ll say here that I borrowed jokes from George
that he may have borrowed from Minnie Pearl,” Griffith wrote.
He also remembered Mr. Lindsey picking on him for calling his
then-girlfriend, now-wife Cindi “sweetheart,” but said,
“Cindi and I believe we will see George again when they ring those golden
bells for (us).”
Emery told the crowd how much Mr. Lindsey
disliked being known as “Goober” at one point in his career and
took pride in the fact that he could “play anything from Hee Haw to Shakespeare.”
“That was very important to him,” Emery said.
Lovullo talked about Mr. Lindsey’s love of visual
comedy and told a story about the comedian wearing a toilet seat around his
neck to drive people to their hospitality suite at a hotel during an industry
event. He also recalled the time he brought a group that “played”
their armpits onto the set of Hee
 and how his friend showed
up on his day off to investigate.
“He tore off his shirt and jumped in there and became
the hit of the armpit band,” Lovullo said.

Humanitarian work

Lovullo also tearfully reminded the crowd of Mr.
Lindsey’s humanitarian work for the Special Olympics, saying: “He
did a lot for our society. He loved people, he loved to entertain and, above
all, he loved his family. There’s no doubt his legacy is going to become
Pace shared more stories of Lindsey’s humor and read
letters from author Ray Bradbury and actors Norman Lloyd, Lucas Black and Billy
Bob Thornton, who said he loved and would miss Mr. Lindsey.
Longtime friend Ray Stevens took the bench
behind the piano and delivered an inspired version of his song
“Everything is Beautiful.”
Toward the end of the ceremony, Roman, who appeared with Mr.
Lindsey on Hee Haw, sang
an emotional version of “Wayfaring Stranger.”
The minister shared stories from Mr. Lindsey’s children
about his love and devotion to them, and after those in attendance sang
“Amazing Grace,” Mr. Lindsey’s casket was wheeled from the
sanctuary. The actor will be buried in his hometown of Jasper, Ala.

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