Earl Hamner, Jr. Obituary (March 24, 2016)

Goodnight, Earl.

It is with great sorrow that we share the news of Earl Hamner’s passing at age 92. He was the voice of the older, wiser John-Boy at the beginning and end of each episode of The Waltons, the series he created and wrote, based on his own family and life.

With The Waltons, he touched the hearts of generations who became captivated by his stories of life growing up during the Great Depression, the insightful tales of family adventures, and the misadventures, the lessons and laughter, all with an abundance of love. The beloved characters of The Waltons, and the stories of their growth through the years are his legacy.

Rest in sweet peace Uncle Earl, knowing what a enormous impact you made in the world. Love you so much . ???

Posted by Mary McDonough on Friday, March 25, 2016

The Hamner family grew up poor, and though Earl’s parents had little formal education they encouraged young Earl, who showed a talent for writing and a love for school. Determined to complete his studies, Earl graduated from Schuyler High School and earned a tuition scholarship to the University of Richmond, living with nearby relatives and working part time to make enough money for books and other expenses.

In 1943, in the middle of his sophomore year, Earl receive the letter from “Uncle Sam.” He was drafted into the U.S. Army. A fellow soldier introduced him to the world of great literature, and he read books by Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and others.

The five of us surrounded by two Angels.

Posted by Eric Scott on Thursday, March 24, 2016

After his discharge in 1946, Earl returned to Richmond from France where he had been stationed. Through his Aunt Nora’s connections, he landed an apprenticeship with a local radio station, and he found his life’s passion. This single move led him to study broadcasting at the University of Cincinnati, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. But it was in his first year that an event occurred that would launch him on a career in television. Earl won a script writing contest and one of the other recipients of the award was Rod Serling, the future creator of the hit TV series, The Twilight Zone. The two met and became lifelong friends, with Earl writing several episodes of the spooky series.

I loved having lunches with Joe and Earl, enjoy your meals together boys!!

Posted by Eric Scott on Thursday, March 24, 2016

After finishing his first novel, Earl headed to New York and landed a job as a writer at NBC. As television became more and more popular, Earl eventually left radio to work in this new, intriguing medium. In February 1954, Earl met Jane Martin, an editor at Harper’s Bazaar, and was immediately smitten. They married the following October. They were living a charmed life in New York, now with two children, Scott born in 1956 and Caroline born in 1958.

In 1961, Earl’s novel, Spencer’s Mountain was published, and his life was about to take yet another turn. That same year, it was clear the television industry was shifting to the west coast, and the young family made the move to California. During this time, Warner Brothers studio bought the film rights to Spencer’s Mountain.

Then in 1972, when the television movie adaptation of his book, The Homecoming, hit the screen, the world got a little glimpse of what would one day become the hit series The Waltons.  

Farewell, Earl Hamner. The world is a better place for you having been here. Thank you for your warm friendship, your…

Posted by Jon Walmsley on Thursday, March 24, 2016

He sought to lift people up with his stories and by his everyday actions. In a 2014 interview with INSP, he said,

“I had such a good life. With the exception of the loss of friends and family, I’ve had no real sadness, and I’ve been an affirmative person. I think if I had any great contribution to [The Waltons] it has been an affirmative, loving positive approach to life.”

Earl Hamner died with his family by his side. And we, his INSP family mourn his loss.

Earl Hamner, Jr.
July 10, 1923 – March 24, 2016
Watch more clips from “The Story Behind the Story with the Real John Boy”