Ralph Waite has died at his home in Palm Desert

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Former actor, politician and community contributor Ralph Waite has died at his home in Palm Desert. Waite was 85 years old.

He was best known for his role as the father on the show 'The Waltons'.

Mary Bono released information about Waite's passing as well as the ABC Recovery Center in Indio, of which he was a great supporter.

He was Mary Bono's first political opponent when she ran for Congress in 1998.

After fifty years being away from organized religion, Waite returned in 2010 and became an active member of Spirit of the Desert Presbyterian Fellowship in Palm Desert.

Mary Bono has released the following statement:

Ralph was a very formidable opponent yet I grew to admire him very much. We had some fun with political jesting and jousting but his caring nature and keen wit always made me smile. I am grateful for his contributions to our community, most notably his support of the ABC Recovery Center. The world has lost a great star and I join our community in remembering a very good man.

Waite ran unsuccessfully for Congress in California as a Democrat three times.

In 1990 he challenged veteran GOP incumbent Al McCandless in the Riverside County-based 37th district, losing by five percentage points. In 1998 he ran in the special election for the then-Palm Springs-based 44th district left vacant by the death of incumbent Sonny Bono.

He was defeated in that election by Mary Bono, Sonny's widow, and lost to her again that November.

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