John Beasley, a beloved character actor who portrayed Barton Bellentine, the father of Cedric the Entertainer’s character, in the TV Land comedy The Soul Man, as well as school bus driver Irv Harper on The WB drama Everwood, passed away on Tuesday. He was 79.

According to his son Tyrone Beasley, Beasley passed away at an Omaha, Nebraska, hospital, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. Prior to an unforeseen turn for the worst, he was undergoing testing on his liver.

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His son Mike, posted on Facebook that he has lost his best friend.

“They say you shouldn’t ever meet your heroes because they don’t turn out to be who you thought they were. That is so wrong. My hero was my father. Thank you for everything,” Mike wrote on Facebook.

Beasley sparkled as the retired minister Charles Blackwell in the Robert Duvall-starring and directed The Apostle (1997) and as an assistant coach in Rudy (1993) and appeared in such other films as V.I. Warshawski (1991), The Mighty Ducks (1992), Untamed Heart (1993), Losing Isaiah (1993), Little Big League (1994), Crazy in Alabama (1997), The General’s Daughter (1999), The Sum of All Fears (2002), the 2004 remake of Walking Tall and Firestarter (2022).

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More recently, he had an onstage appearance in Chicago for The Notebook, the musical adaption of the 1996 Nicholas Sparks novel that will soon be performed on Broadway and starring James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Ryan Gosling, and Rachel McAdams.

Beasley, who was portraying Garner, was scheduled to fly to New York in August to work on the musical as the producers choose a venue, according to his son.

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He founded and oversaw the John Beasley Theater and Workshop for 13 years in Omaha. In 2020, he had claimed that “we changed the lives of a lot of people just through the theater.”

Survivors also include his wife of 58 years, Judy, and grandchildren Evan, Miles, Olivia, Mika, Darius and Malik Beasley, an NBA veteran who played last season with the Los Angeles Lakers.