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This image provided by Archie Comics shows Archie in his final moments of life in the comic book, "Life with Archie," issue 37. Archie Andrews will die taking a bullet for his gay best friend. The famous freckle-faced comic book icon will die in the July 16, 2014 installment of "Life with Archie" while intervening in the assassination of Kevin Keller, Archie Comics' first openly gay character. (AP Photo/Archie Comics)
This image provided by Archie Comics shows Archie in his final moments of life in the comic book, "Life with Archie," issue 37. Archie Andrews will die taking a bullet for his gay best friend. The famous freckle-faced comic book icon will die in the July 16, 2014 installment of "Life with Archie" while intervening in the assassination of Kevin Keller, Archie Comics' first openly gay character. (AP Photo/Archie Comics)

Obituary: Archibald (Archie) Andrews, 1941-2014 Add to ...

Honorable to his last breath, Archie was an action hero without a cape, an everyday Riverdalian who did not need physiological transformation to perform noble deeds. He was a maladroit ubermensch grappling forever with the forces of Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, Betty and Veronica.

On Wednesday at a post-fundraiser party for his controversial friend, U.S. Senator Kevin Keller, the bumbling athlete and love-torn musician Archibald “Archie” Andrews leapt in front of an assassin’s bullet intended for the openly gay U.S. senator. No details on the suspect are known, and sources close to the storyline cannot speak about it because they cannot break their non-disclosure agreements. There was an FBI detail on duty, brought in to protect Mr. Keller after the recent shooting of a gay man at Southport Mall and the discovery of Keller campaign literature in a motel room believed to have been occupied by the shooter.

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Earlier in the evening at the downtown venue, Jughead’s Chocklit Shop, Mr. Andrews had ordered a large chocolate milkshake with a maraschino cherry and three straws – an order he had placed thousands of times over the decades. The three straws were an homage of sorts to his teen years when he would share the shake with two girlfriends, the former Miss Veronica Lodge and the former Miss Betty Cooper. Mr. Andrews inadvertently knocked the shake over in his rush to protect Mr. Keller, who was accompanied to both the fundraiser and after-party by his husband and former physical therapist, Clay Walker.

While Mr. Andrews died of his injuries in the series Life with Archie, he will continue to live in our hearts, as well as in several commercial iterations, including an upcoming feature film. As if foreshadowing Wednesday’s tragic event two years ago, the film’s director pointed to the psychic demons Mr. Andrews faced. “There are parts of the story that I think people will be surprised how dark and real it gets,” said Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Equally portentous, he is writing a zombie series called Afterlife with Archie.

Born in Riverdale in 1941 to a family of vaguely Scottish ancestry, Mr. Andrews would sometimes wear a kilt and, on occasion, strangle a bagpipe. He never had “Mommy issues” with Mary Andrews—she was frustrated but indulgent. Their positive rapport led to wide puzzlement over his perennial inability to choose between the solidly middle-class Elizabeth “Betty” Cooper and Veronica “Ronnie” Lodge, the daughter of the local oligarch, Hiram. While Mr. Keller was Archie’s best friend later in life, his most formative companionship was with Jughead Jones, best known for his squinting, thousand-yard stare and signature “clubhouse beanie” fashioned from an upside-down fedora.

A musician of minor note, Mr. Andrews and his eponymous band first tripped out of the gate with his debut song, Bang-Shang-a-Lang, but soon after enjoyed early musical success with its 1969 hit, Sugar, Sugar, a song aching with the wanton teenage lust that would later influence the early work of One Direction. After a long hiatus from the musical charts, he began a love affair with Josie and the Pussycats guitarist Valerie Smith. The relationship was a notable departure for Mr. Andrews. It was his first interracial relationship and, conservative critics suggested it began his slide into the liberal politics that ultimately led to his demise. The couple consummated their relationship with a song, More than Words, and a child named Star.

Mr. Andrews death came quickly on the floor of the Chocklit Shoppe, surrounded, fortunately, by many loved ones, friends and acquaintances of long-standing. As the end neared, he calmly enquired as to the safety of the crowd and declared: “I’ve always loved you.”

Those were his last words.

Follow on Twitter: @Jglobeadams

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