Actor David Smyrl, best known for his role as Mr. Handford on “Sesame Street,” died on Tuesday (March 22) near Philadelphia after battling lung cancer. He was 80.

Smyrl was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the year, his wife, Cheryl, told the Associated Press.

“He was loved by so many people,” Cheryl Smyrl tells the AP. “He was a mentor to a lot of children. He was a family man, loyal, true and faithful.”

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Smyrl portrayed Handford — the cheerful, retired firefighter who ran Hooper’s Store on Sesame Street — from 1990 to 1998, taking over the role from Leonard Jackson. He began his television career in the 1970s, appearing on the show “Express Yourself.” He also worked as a writer and played contractor Sam Lucas on “The Cosby Show.”

Smyrl won a People’s Choice Award for his work on the ’70s sitcom sitcom “Benson.”

Smyrl is also survived by his stepson, Pancho Scott.

His funeral will be held on Monday.

Posted by:Maane Khatchatourian, Variety