During the last few years of his life, veteran actor Jim Nabors was married to a man named Stan Cadwallader. Theirs was a relationship that had spanned more than four decades, and while Nabors was known to keep his sexuality an open secret among colleagues, it was only in 2013 when he and Cadwallader got married, with the Andy Griffith Show star quietly coming out as gay in the process. When Nabors died on Thursday at the age of 87, Cadwallader was by his side, later confirming the sad news to media outlets and describing his late husband as a “wonderful man.”
According to a 2013 report from Hawaii News Now, the relationship between Jim Nabors and Stan Cadwallader started in 1975, when Cadwallader, who was working as a firefighter in Honolulu, started working for the actor and singer. The working relationship soon evolved into a personal one, though Jim and Stan chose to keep a low profile in the decades that followed.
During his days playing the dimwitted, yet friendly Gomer Pyle in The Andy Griffith Show and later on in the spinoff Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Nabors had no problems admitting his homosexuality to his friends and coworkers. This was the case during the peak of his popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, but it was only when he tied the knot with Cadwallader in January 2013 that he publicly confirmed his sexual orientation.
“I haven’t ever made a public spectacle of it,” said Nabors.
“Well, I’ve known since I was a child, so, come on. It’s not that kind of a thing. I’ve never made a huge secret of it at all.”
— Charles Lamadrid (@CharlesLamadrid) December 3, 2013
Instead of focusing on coming out to the public, Jim Nabors focused on how he felt after marrying Stan Cadwallader almost four decades after their relationship started, as he told Hawaii News Now that he was just glad to finally be married to his longtime partner.
“I’m 82 and he’s in his 60s and so we’ve been together for 38 years and I’m not ashamed of people knowing, it’s just that it was such a personal thing, I didn’t tell anybody. I’m very happy that I’ve had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed.”
As further noted by Hawaii News Now, the Jim Nabors and Stan Cadwallader wedding took place at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, one month after the state of Washington legalized gay marriage. It was a private ceremony performed by a judge in the couple’s hotel room, with only two friends present to serve as witnesses. Prior to the marriage, Nabors commented that marrying his longtime partner was “probably the best thing to do” at his age, after years of gay couples not having the rights they do in present times.
Looking back on the life of his late husband Jim Nabors, Stan Cadwallader offered a succinct statement to the press, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.
“Everybody knows he was a wonderful man. And that’s all we can say about him. He’s going to be dearly missed.”