Ron Howard and many others mourn the loss of Andy Griffith

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Andy Griffith and Ron Howard recreate the opening of "The Andy Griffith Show" during an "Andy Griffith Reunion Special" in 2003. (Ron Tom - CBS)

Ron Howard, members of Andy Griffith's North Carolina community and legions of fans are among those paying their respects today to the late actor, who died this morning at the age of 86.

Howard — who played son Opie to Griffith's infinitely understanding father, Andy Taylor, on "The Andy Griffith Show" — immediately expressed via Twitter his gratitude to his TV dad.

Griffith's widow and members of his North Carolina community also expressed their sorrow.

"Andy was a person of in­cred­ibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord," said Cindi Griffith, the actor's third wife, to whom he had been married since 1983. "He is the love of my life, my constant companion, my partner, and my best friend. I cannot imagine life without Andy, but I take comfort and strength in God's Grace and in the knowledge that Andy is at peace and with God."

A more general statement from the family said: "Andy Griffith passed away, after an illness, during the early morning on July 3 at his home in Manteo, N.C., with his wife Cindi at his side. He was 86 years old. Mr. Griffith has been laid to rest on his beloved Roanoke Island. His favorite causes were Outer Banks Conservationists and the Griffith Scholarship Fund at UNC-Chapel Hill."

Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council that's based in Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, also mourned the loss.

"We are broken hearted. Andy Griffith means the world to the arts everywhere — not just here in Mount Airy. His contribution to us, the Surry Arts Council, and the town of Mount Airy cannot be measured. We are blessed to have known him. We will cherish is his art, his music, his talent, and of course, our beloved 'Andy Griffith Show.' Our prayers and love go out to Cindi. We know that Andy is at peace and that is what is important right now."

The Twitterverse is still filling with tributes from various celebrities and fans who, as a testament to Griffith's wide-ranging career, focused on a variety of the actor's achievements.

Morgan Spurlock encouraged his followers to Netflix "A Face in the Crowd," the Elia Kazan film that features Griffith's acclaimed performance as drunken-lout-turned-limelight-seeker, Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes:

Michael McKean also had that film on his mind.

Roger Ebert reminded us of Griffith's stand-up comedy talents, as did the Post's Cindy Boren:

Ralph Macchio :was among the many with "The Andy Griffith Show" theme song on his mind.

Even Slash was moved.

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