Ralph Waite, most widely known as John Walton Sr. on The Waltons and beloved to Days of our Lives fans as Father Matt, passed away on February 13, 2014, at his home in Palm Desert, California. Waite was 85.
Waite was a mainstay on television from 1972 until 1981 as the patriarch on The Waltons. After the classic series came to a close, Waite reprised the role in several TV movies and continued a respected career with a variety of other roles in film, on television, and on stage. Most recently, this included roles on Bones, NCIS, and Carnivàle.
Born June 22, 1928, in White Plains, N.Y., Waite served in the Marines before enrolling at Bucknell University, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He later entered the Yale University Divinity School and became an ordained Presbyterian minister.
Several years later, Waite made another chance and decided to take up acting. In the 1980s, he was also heavily involved in politics in the Coachella Valley. Waite ran for Congress but lost in 1990 and 1998.
Though he will forever be known for his work on The Waltons, in 2009 Waite became part of the soap opera family. From that time until 2013, Waite played Days of our Lives' Father Matt, who was a priest at St. Luke's and a trusted advisor to many of Salem's residents. He advised Chloe Lane, Nicole Walker, and Stephanie Johnson, among others, and served as mentor for and heard confession from Eric Brady.
Eric Brady's portrayer, Greg Vaughan, said on Twitter, "To my good friend Mr. Waite! You will be terrible missed & I feel honored to have share the screen opposite of you this past year & our good talks followed by your great sense of humor! #RIP."
Eileen Davidson, who worked with Waite in her role as Kristen DiMera on DAYS, expressed her feelings on Facebook, "So very sad to hear about the passing of Ralph Waite. I had the great pleasure of working with him. He was always charming, prepared and ready to work. I was always thrilled to share scenes with him."
Like Father Matt, Waite touched and enriched many lives. He will be missed.