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George Lindsey, who played the memorable character of Goober Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, died early yesterday morning at the age of 83.

Lindsey, who later was a regular on the long-running country music comedy show Hee Haw, passed on at a healthcare center in Nashville, Tenn.

“George Lindsey was my friend,” Andy Griffith said in a statement released on Sunday. “I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit.”

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Noting that they last spoke a few days ago, Griffith said: “I’m happy to say that as we found ourselves in our 80s, we were not afraid to say, ‘I love you.’ That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other. ‘I love you.’ “

The Andy Griffith Show, the classic 1960s sitcom starring Griffith as the kindly sheriff of Mayberry, N.C., was in its fourth season in 1964 when Lindsey appeared as the cousin of naive gas station attendant Gomer Pyle, played by Jim Nabors.

Lindsey’s character became more prominent after Nabors left the show to star in the spin-off series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. in 1964. R.I.P.