Ralph Waite, who was beloved to TV viewers as the ultimate father figure, John Walton, on ‘The Waltons’, has died he was 85. Waite passed away on Thursday at his home in South Palm Desert. He was nominated for an Emmy in 1978 for his portrayal of the middle-American paterfamilias. Born on June 22, 1928 in White Plains, New York, he starred on The Waltons for nine years and directed 15 episodes. Under his own production banner, Ralph Waite Prods, he starred as a criminal lawyer in the 1983 TV series The Mississippi. Multi-faceted, Waite was also an ordained minister, a former social worker and a recovering alcoholic. He channeled that background into a film on the lives of people on L.A.'s skid row, On the Nickel, which he produced/directed/wrote/starred. Politically active, he twice ran unsuccessfully for a Congressional seat, including a run for the seat left vacant by the late Sonny Bono in 1998. Waite appeared in two Euro-westerns: as Elias Hooker in “Chato’s Land” and Jack Decker in “Lawman” both 1971.