DALLAS — It was a sad goodbye Saturday with lots of warm memories for a beloved member of the WFAA family and a local TV icon — Mr. Peppermint, Jerry Haynes, who died earlier this week at age 84.
The peaceful sound of a solo violin soothed the hearts mourners at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas on Saturday afternoon.
It was only fitting that a child was the one who was performing. Children were drawn to Haynes' alter ego on Channel 8 for 35 years.
"That's why 'Peppermint Place' lasted so long," said WFAA production operations manager Jerry Cadigan, a longtime colleague. "The kids were drawn to the genuine goodness and love of Jerry Haynes."
And Mr. Peppermint's sidekick on the show, Vern Dailey — the man behind "Muffin" and other puppet characters — drove that point home with funny stories.
"We had some great guests on our show, and I'd just like to talk about two or three of them. Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, they were on our show one time, and during an interview with her, he [Haynes] called Muffin up and said, 'Muffin, come up and meet Pork Chops,'" Dailey recalled with a laugh. "Pork Chops said, 'I'm Lamb Chop. My name is Lamb Chop... Captain Kangaroo!'"
The pews at the church were filled with so many close friends, but no one loved Jerry Hayens more than his best friend, Vern.
"He was a great guy to work with, and we had a ball," Dailey said as he started to break down. "I'll always miss him and... somebody say something funny."
A peppermint candy-shaped bouquet at the altar reflected the impact his TV show had on the public.
Haynes was also featured in dozens of movies, but perhaps his biggest role was a father.
His son Andy recited a poem his dad read to him as a kid, while son Gibby tried to bring comfort to those left behind.
"I just wanted to say to my mom how much Carla and Andy and I love you," Gibby Haynes said. "Although this is a really dark day, I promise there will be happier days."
That's a sentiment that Mr. Peppermint — a man who brought joy to countless thousands — would have shared.
"I mean, he was the real deal," Gibby told the mourners. "I mean, what you saw was just that — he was the dude."
To honor his memory, Haynes' family has asked that donations be made to the Lone Star EMMY Educational Foundation.