TV Writer, Native Utahn, Dies

TV Writer, Native Utahn, Dies

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Television writer Ernest Ferrin Wallengren, whose credits range from "The Waltons" to "Baywatch," has died at age 50 of Lou Gehrig's disease.

Wallengren was buried Saturday in Westlake Village, Calif. He developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2000. The ailment, which attacks nerves in the brain, left him a quadriplegic. He died May 27.

Wallengren, a native of Heber City, Utah, began his television writing career with the family drama, "The Waltons." His brother, Mark Wallengren, said: "Ernie loved writing the family shows, and his proudest is starting with 'The Waltons."'

Wallengren also was an executive producer and writer for the first season of "Baywatch." Mark Wallengren told The Salt Lake Tribune that his brother considered that show "too trashy" and left it early on.

He wrote for numerous other television series, including "Touched by an Angel," "Little House on the Prairie," "Eight Is Enough," "Knight Rider" and the PAX drama, "Doc," his last show.

In one episode of "Doc," Wallengren wrote about the struggle with Lou Gehrig's disease, for which he won the National Courage Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Wallengren is survived by his father, Del, of Salt Lake City; his mother, Claire, of Calabasas, Calif.; his wife, Cheryl; two daughters and three sons. He has five siblings.

Wallengren was born Dec. 15, 1952 in Heber City, Utah. His family owned the Homestead resort in nearby Midway. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Central America in 1974.

He is buried at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, Calif.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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