It was New Years Day 1978, and my family was at the Los Angeles airport, after spending our Christmas holiday in California. Suddenly my sister and I spotted an older gentleman walking toward one of the seats in the airport. We looked at each other and whispered, "He looks just like Grandpa Walton". We all wanted to meet him, but were too shy, all except my grandmother. She said, "I'll go speak to him!" As my teenager sister and I practically crawled under our seats, Nonnie walked over to where he was sitting.
"Excuse me Mr. Geer, are you Grandpa
Walton?" she stammered somewhat embarrassed. When he responded,
"Why yes, I am!" she excitedly beckoned us to come.
We shyly produced our trip diaries for him to sign. He was very
friendly and mentioned that he was traveling to Texas to be the
Grand Marshal in a parade. He commented to us that ours were the
first autographs that he'd signed in 1978! At about that time,
a crowd began to push behind us and bumped my mother slightly
as she took another picture. We felt privileged to be the first
ones to recognize him and that we had a chance to have a little
conversation with him.
I was shocked when I heard in the April of that year that Will Geer was in hospital and was very saddened when he died. Little did we realize when we met him that day, that it would be the last January first that he would be meeting his fans. I was glad however, that I was left with a wonderful memory of a man who touched many people's lives, not only through his role as Grandpa Walton, but because of his friendly and generous nature.
Written September 6, 1998
Revised November 2, 1998
NOTE: Thank you to Kathy, who has allowed
us to share her wonderful memories and precious photographs of
her chance meeting with this wonderful actor.