I think the experiments and demonstrations, taking place in his very own den, workshop, backyard (at least, to the eyes of this 8-year-old Nickelodeon fan) did more to foster the current DIY/Make culture than anything else. All the while vouchsafing the legacy of popular science and academic curiosity as passtime and bonding opportunity.
It's sad to hear he's passed on, but knowing that it comes at the end of a long, successful life as the beloved hero to two generations helps.
Mr. Wizard, Don Herbert (1917-2007)
Eulogy in the LA Times.
Link via BoingBoing, via Cryptomundo.