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In Mount Airy, fans and friends fondly remember Betty Lynn as Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show

Lynn passed away at age 95 on Saturday
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 3:54 PM EDT
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MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (WBTV) - She was Barney’s girl, but actress Betty Lynn, better known as Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show, was a sweetheart to millions, especially around Mount Airy. Lynn died at the age of 95 on Saturday, That fictional town of Mayberry was based on Mount Airy, and it became the real life for Betty Lynn for the last few years of her life.

“Betty being gracious was the real deal and Betty spending a massive amount of time with everyone was also the real deal, and I mentioned to several people over the years, Betty would never let us cut off her line, which was always the longest line during Mayberry Days,” said Tonya Jones. Jones was a personal friend of Betty Lynn, and is the Executive Director of the Surry Arts Council. “Betty loved it and I’m trying to do all I can because she meant so much to so many people, including me.”

“I thought she was good, I thought she was fantastic, I loved to hear her when she talked about Barney and everything,” said Michael and Diane Mesimore. The couple was in Mount Airy on Monday, visiting from Taylorsville. “We decided to come up here and make a day of it.

Mayberry On Main souvenir shop Owner Esther Cortez says Betty Lynn was a wonderful person who always made everyone she met feel speical.

“She always made us feel like she really cared about us,” Cortez said.

Lynn was in 26 episodes of the Andy Griffith Show as Barney’s girl. The museum gives you a glimpse at other stages of her career. She moved to Mount Airy several years ago and was immediately embraced by the town, and by fans of the show who come here constantly to visit the Snappy Lunch or Floyd’s Barber Shop.

“I could have done Shakespeare on Broadway and no one would have remembered me, but this show…they remember,” Lynn told WBTV during a 2013 interview.

Just three weeks ago, not feeling well, Lynn was able to serve as Grand Marshal in the annual Mayberry Days parade.

“She was having a lot of shoulder pain but she managed to get her hand up, so really that’s how recently Betty was communicating and being Thelma Lou for the fans of the Andy Griffith Show,” Jones said.

A private burial service is planned in Culver City, CA. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Betty’s memory may be made to the Betty Lynn Scholarship Endowment (for students pursuing a career in dance or acting) or the Barbara and Emmett Forrest Endowment Fund (for the Andy Griffith Museum and Mayberry Days), both in care of Surry Arts Council, P.O. Box 141, Mount Airy, NC 27030; or Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church, 1208 N Main Street, Mount Airy NC 27030, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

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