Much of the '70s is colored by seeing actor Ralph Waite as the patriarch of the Walton clan in The Waltons, created by Earl Hamner Jr. However, for all the fatherly wisdom and grace John Walton Sr. exuded, Waite himself had a difficult relationship with fatherhood and had to take his cues from his television persona. Waite's complicated understanding of being a father came from his own upbringing and his own way of being a dad. Waite did not like what he saw when he reflected on his own parenting and considered John Sr. the best part of him. He was also the first good example of parenting Waite was exposed to, thanks to his own dad's failings. Ralph Waite did not have an exemplary father and instead learned from the elder John Walton The eldest of five children, Waite was born on June 22, 1928, to a woman named Esther (née Mitchell) and her husband, construction engineer Ralph H. Waite. Jobs in civil engineering can be very demanding, and depending on the position can involve being away from home - or finding a new home - quite often. RELATED: Whatever Happened To Ralph Waite, John Walton Sr. On ‘The Waltons?’ It was not always a peaceful home life. Waite once said his father "tended to be a rough and impatient man." He even said his father "often harassed" him. The end result was that Waite found himself not learning some of life's most important lessons or healthy ways of being a calm, patient father until he started playing the most idyllic of them all, John Walton Sr. Ralph Waite had to change his views Ralph Waite learned what it meant to be a patient father through John Walton Sr. / Everett Collection Although Waite would get to learn from one of the most saintly fictional fathers out there, he would feel he never could quite match John's patience. Waite would even say "He's the good side of me." Maybe a little too good, as Waite would also come to feel. Because his own father was so imperfect, Waite thought it would be worth portraying John Sr. as flawed, as a man whose fortitude could slip because of his kids. Producers never greenlit the idea because, as Wait explained, "You begin to feel like you're violating audience expectations." THE WALTONS, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned, 1972-81 / Everett Collection But that gave Waite more time to bond with a man who would bring up eight kids who each had a good head on their shoulders. Which is all the better, because during lunch breaks, Waite would down three to four cocktails in one sitting. Playing the ideal patriarch "Forced me to cope with life," said Waite. He elaborated, "I suppose, as the saying goes, I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired. More than that, though, it was the show that had a profound effect on me. I simply came to the conclusion that I couldn't go around loaded all the time if I was to act the part of a kind, responsible parent to so many children." Waite passed away in 2014 at the age of 85, but his influence lives on in his performance as John Walton Sr., continuing to teach others about grace and love.