Dave Dedrick's role as Captain 11 brought much joy into the lives of young audiences for decades. Wednesday, that joy turned to sadness as members of the captain's crew mourn their loss.
Like many kids growing up in South Dakota, Bernie and Joan Duffy never missed watching Captain 11 on TV. But they never had the opportunity to meet the captain in person, until much later, when they moved next-door to the Dedricks.
Captain 11's heroics spanned galaxies, but his gravitational pull on the Duffy family only had to reach beyond the driveway they shared with the Dedricks.
"And we had a little basketball hoop out there and whiffle ball bats and Dave would come out and pitch to the kids and play basketball with the kids," Bernie Duffy said.
Growing up, the Duffys idolized the man who would eventually become their neighbor.
"I was in Sherman, so we had to live vicariously through other people that were allowed to go to actually be on the show," Joan Duffy said.
"We were convinced living in Ft. Pierre that he wasn't just the Captain, there were rumors he could fly," Bernie Duffy said.
The Duffy's were star-struck when they moved next-door to the Captain 12 years ago.
"And I didn't know what to say, but the Captain could put you at ease. Sitting down with the Captain, he made you feel like you were the celebrity," Bernie Duffy said.
And the Captain became like a doting grandpa to the Duffy kids.
While crew members everywhere grieve the loss of their Captain, the Duffys will miss the good neighbor who became part of their family.
"I shutter to think what it's going to be like not having him around. As we all know, he filled up a room and he filled up a neighborhood and he filled up our lives," Bernie Duffy said.
The Duffys say as a neighbor, Captain 11 always had an "open porch" policy allowing ready access to anyone who came to visit.