All Around Wise: Mayhew’s heart bigger than frame

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, May 4, 2019
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The credenza behind my desk looks more like an early 1980s toy chest than something you might expect in an editor’s office.

Along with pictures of me with my wife, brothers and Boston Marathon winner and Olympics medalist Meb Keflezighi is my ever-growing toy figurine collection.

Richard Greene

There’s Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Bob Ross, the Night King from “Game of Thrones,” Dustin from “Stranger Things” and Micheal Young bobblehead. But the prized possessions are the four different Darth Vaders and Admiral Ackbar.

To say, I’m a fan of Star Wars is a bit of an understatement, as I’m writing this wearing my “When All Else Fails Send in the Wookiee” T-shirt.

“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” is the first movie I recall seeing, and as a kid, I owned several dozen figurines, including the Emperor Palpatine that I received after sending in a number of UPC codes.

As I grew up, my fandom only grew. I made the trip to the AMC Grand in Dallas to see the re-release of the original trilogy and made it to the theater on opening weekend for all subsequent films.

Luckily, my wife does little to dissuade my fandom. She made sure our family trip to Disney World was during Star Wars Week, and then for my 39th birthday she registered me for the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland. A pep talk from Vader sent us on our way.

So, you could imagine the delight early in my tenure at the Messenger when I learned that Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca lived in Wise County. It became one of my three bucket list stories, along with getting an inside peek into the Waggoner Mansion and interview with the Old 97s’ Murry Hammond. Almost 10 years later, I’m batting 1-for-3.

I never landed an interview with Mayhew, and I missed him by a day at Disney World when I bought my Wookiee shirt that I hoped to one day get autographed.

But through the years, I did hear from a number of people that met him in Boyd or Decatur while he was at Fit-N-Wise. Everyone that did know him talked of his kindness and his generosity, especially to help those in need from veterans to children in foreign countries.

They made it sound like his heart was even bigger than his 7-foot-3 frame that made him stand out no matter where he went in Wise County.

The news of his death on the precipice of Star Wars Day, that some may know as May 4, puts a bit of a damper on the holiday. But like the Force, the joy that Mayhew brought to so many fans will be with us always.

“May the Force be with You!”

Richard Greene is editor of the Messenger.

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