North Texas

Boyd Neighbors Remember Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew, the Gentle Giant Who Lived Among Them

Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in five Star Wars movies, has died at age 74. He passed away on Tuesday at his home outside the North Texas town of Boyd, with his family by his side. Now neighbors are remembering the gentle giant who lived among them.

In small towns like Boyd, it can feel like time slows down. It's the kind of place where a movie rental store could survive more than 30 years.

"When she first opened, it was full of VHS, the whole entire store," said longtime manager Sharon Chapman.

But even there, times have changed, adding a pizza restaurant and clothing shop to keep customers coming in.

"It's The Movie Store, Pizza Place, Sweet and Sassy!" Chapman said.

Folks there still tell the story of one customer in particular, the day Chewbacca himself walked in.

"Oh he got all kinds of excited," Chapman said, remembering a young employee's reaction. "When we got to work, he had to tell us all about it that he got to meet him and he got to talk to him and he got to visit with him."

Back in 1999, Peter Mayhew, a London native, got married and moved to North Texas. His 7'3" frame stood out around town.

"Well he was in the convenience store, and then I heard them say well he was at the grocery store, I was never in the right place at the right time to see him!" Chapman said.

On Tuesday, he died in his home just outside of Boyd.

"It's kind of cool having somebody like that be from this town so it would just be sadness," said Staci Sanders, another employee.

The original Star Wars movies have long since sold off the store's shelves.

"Their parents would go they want to watch them again!" Chapman said.

But the story goes on and in the town where time slows down, Chewbacca will live forever.

"He was the one who seemed to always make you laugh," said Sanders.

Mayhew was known for his kindness and generosity, starting the Peter Mayhew Foundation that donates to causes including pediatric cancer. Mayhew's family is now directing fans who want to donate to the foundation.

In 2016, he went so far as inviting the family of a terminally-ill Star Wars fan to his home in Boyd.

Mayhew's family did not share how he died but we know he had some health problems in recent years, undergoing several surgeries. His towering 7'3" height is linked to Marfan syndrome. The genetic condition can cause serious complications like heart and blood vessel problems.

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