For generations of Mid-South children his face was as familiar as Bert, Ernie or Big Bird.
His "Hello, Mr. Chuck" television show did by itself define the many accomplishments of Memphis businessman and civic leader Chuck Scruggs.
Mr. Scruggs passed away Friday, Jan. 18, at the age of 80.
"Hello, hello. Let's say it again. Sing along now. Hello, hello won't you be my friend?"
It became "Mr. Chuck's" signature song as host of one of the most popular children's shows to ever grace the television airways of Memphis.
For most men, fame of any kind can become an uncomfortable fit when it's not reflective of your real persona. But, with the Black Broadcasting Hall of Fame recipient, what you saw and who he was truly one and the same.
With the news of the death of the 80-year-old pioneer broadcaster, civic leader and education advocate, those who knew him well, like WKNO President Mike Labonia, reflected on the wealth of memories Mr. Scruggs left behind.
"Fred Rogers had come to town and he stopped in to watch Chuck to his program and visit with Chuck," Labonia recalled. "Before he left he came in and told me. He said, 'Absolutely, remarkable. What he's achieving. What he's done. What he's accomplishing.'"
Long before he brought joy to generations of Mid-South children on TV, Mr. Scruggs' list of accomplishments as a businessman and community-minded leader had already been etched in Bluff City history. Arriving in Memphis in 1972, Mr. Scruggs served for 12 years as the influential vice president and manager of the iconic radio station WDIA.
One of the many projects that drew his attention was when he got a call from the owner of the Lorraine Motel asking him for help and ideas as to what to do with his abandoned facility, Mr. Scruggs' sense of the historical value the building could be converted into, led him to do the "legwork" to lay the foundation for what would become the National Civil Rights Museum.
"He advocated at the state level and locally," recalled Beverly Robertson, NCRM's executive director. "He was actually the chairman of the Lorraine Civil Rights Foundation Board which precedes the opening of the Civil Rights Museum."
Yet, it was through the vehicle of his television recognition, Mr. Scruggs' had the perfect platform to promote literacy among the city's youth. His charm. His warmth. His wit. Just like on TV, in person those traits created a natural bond between Mr. Scruggs and his audiences - whether they were 8 or 80.
"It was genuineness. He wasn't looking for anything," Labonia said. "He wasn't trying to sell a product.
It was genuine. Genuine interest in trying to help make kids better."
"Chuck has been such a public servant and such a contributor to the life and fabric of the Memphis community and he will be sorely missed," Robertson added.
"Now you are my friend. Now you are my friend. Thank you!"