- Born on: May 3, 1931
- Departed on: August 4, 2021
- Resided in: Ames , IA
Betty Lou Varnum
Betty Lou. I loved your show as a child. You will always be remembered and loved. Praying for the family.
Few have the opportunity to positively impact the number of children Betty Lou did in her life. From the Tails of the Riverbank tails and her interactions with the beloved tiger and unicorn, she helped countless young Iowans grow to be better people. I know because I was one of them and over 60+ years later, I can close my eyes and see and hear the Magic Window as a I watched it as a kid. Thank you for that.
Betty Lou touched so many lives, including mine. Condolences to family and friends. RIP, Mary Lou.
Oh my! I find it hard to express the impact Mary Lou had on my life. She was so caring and serene on her program. It always seemed she had so much patience and kindness. I loved the crafts because in our home we didn’t have a lot but the projects Mary Lou did were so simple with household items easily gathered and gave me such a feeling of accomplishment. I grew up loving to create beautiful things. I started sewing before I hit my teens making most of my own clothes. I always enjoyed my art classes and loved to experiment with different mediums and colors. The Magic Window was one of my favorite shows when I was young. My prayers go out to the family of this great lady.
I am from Marshalltown, Ia and loved the Riverbank tails and all the craft projects! Really enjoyed this show growing up. Rest In Peace and God Bless!
So sad to hear this…my siblings and I grew up in central Iowa and watched the Magic Window with Mary Lou. After I married, and had children, we lived in the Ames area, so my daughters grew up watching her show also. I also remember Mary Lou hosting the other shows that dealt with the issues of the 80’s and 90’s. My condolences to her family.
My husband still quotes from the Magic Window. We fondly remember watching Betty Lou and wished for construction paper and markers and her magic in making things. RIP.
As I child growing up in Webster City, I doubt I ever missed an episode! I remember appreciating the projects you made look so easy :-) As others have mentioned, "The Tales of the Riverbank" was a favorite. Your soft voice still resonates in my mind. You were encouraging to me and your show provided a wonderful rest from the things of childhood I did not yet understand. Thank you for what you brought to me and so many others who "grew up" watching you. I'll never forget.
Such a great influence on my life thank you Betty Love You Forever!
I’m so very saddened to learn of her passing she was a wonderful and kind and loving Woman who brought me great joy and happiness over the years. May you all know that you have my heartfelt condolences and prayers
Betty Lou was such a big influence on me. The paper chains from construction paper to the tin foil chains and critters. Catrina and Gregory were my favorites. I can remember waiting for the show to come on. I was sitting in a chair in the living room with a table in front of me with my tin foil, construction paper, sissors and markers just waiting for the TA DA and the curtain opening. I have many fond memories of this very lovely lady. Thank you for sharing her with us all those years!
I loved Betty Lou and the House with the magic window! The Riverbank, the crafts that she amazingly did upside down so viewers could easily see, and that tape dispenser! That tape dispenser was completely awesome. I got a "get well wish" after eye surgery when I was really little and was wowed by that. She touched so many of us. So grateful for all she did. My condolensces to her family.
I worked with you many years at WOI and enjoyed every minute. You are greatly missed.
Betty Lou and the characters of Magic Window touched me and transformed my life. I was a special friend to Holly and my heart goes out to her especially in this sad time. Thank you Betty Lou for all the good memories...my sincere condolences to all her family, she will never be forgotten ??
I grew up watching the house with the magic window and my son fondly remembers it also. "She was the queen of cellophane tape!" She touched so many lives and we are grateful to have known her!
Loved her, she was awesome at her job. Watched her everyday. So sorry for the loss to all family and friends. She made kids smile and craft time was always special.
I grew up watching her show. I wish ever child could have a great role model, like Betty Lou. She taught us so much about how to place nice with others, how to respect others and she gave us all the experience to not be just kids, but good kids!
As a boy I remember watching The Magic Window and especially Tales of the Riverbank. The opening song has been stuck in my brain since then. Later I learned that it's a simple classical guitar piece written by Matteo Giuliani. I learned how to play it and whenever I do I think of Tales of the Riverbank, The Magic Window, and Betty Lou.
Sweet lady of our childhood, you will be dearly missed. So very sorry for friends and family . She lived a good life, but that does not make it any easier for those who knew and loved her.
Betty Lou, I loved watching The House With The Magic Window when I was a young child growing up in Iowa. You touched so many hearts with your kindness and the genuine care you showed towards your audience. Prayers to your family.
I adored Betty Lou and her show! Especially Tales of the Riverbank! And Katrina Crocodile. And Dusty Unicorn! OH, and Gregory Lion! (Smiling broadly as I type....) Once for Christmas, my mother put a whole “junior” sized roll of aluminum foil in my stocking, for use during “The Magic Window.” Apparently, I’d been using up all of her kitchen supply.... I had the great opportunity to go to school with one of Betty Lou’s nephews, and also to know Betty Lou’s brother and sister-in-law. If any of Betty Lou’s family reads this note, please know I’m thinking of you and send condolences. She brought great joy to many Iowans! Best regards and memories, Sara Sommerlot, West Des Moines, Iowa
I have such wonderful memories of watching her program for years. Mostly, I coveted her super sharp, long scissors and how they sliced right through the construction paper when she made a craft! For a kid with those safety blunt-tipped scissors, I couldn’t wait to be trusted with ones like Miss Betty Lou had ??. As a college student, I would see her name come across my desk when she renewed her newspaper subscription and I’d get so excited! She was a hero, a role model and loved by countless children she never even knew. May the love and prayers of so many uplift you as you mourn. God bless you, Betty Lou!
My deepest sympathies! She was such a part of my childhood! I can still hum “Tales of the Riverbank”! She was a friend to a generation of children!
Kent, Kari and Holly - so sorry to hear of the passing of your Mom. I have fond memories of her show, particular “Tales from the Riverbank”. I remember being excited to meet her in person when hanging out at your home (as we were also neighbors on Ash Ave). All my best to you and your families.
I am so heartbroken to hear of Betty Lou’s passing. I loved watching her show as a child as I wanted to BE her. She had the best craft supplies!!! Sending love and prayers to her family.
You were definitely a part of my childhood. ????
Red Varnum was a good friend with whom I worked at ISU. By knowing him I got to know Betty Lou, whose TV program my kids had watched in earlier times. The was a wonderfully talented woman who will be remembered by many over several generations.
I remember watching the House with the Magic Window. My own children loved Betty Lou and every day they would kiss Betty Lou good by. My TV screen always had lip marks on it from them. Betty Lou came one time to our church and gave a program and my daughter got to sit on her lap. My prayers to her family.
So sorry to hear about the passing of Betty Lou. Brings back good childhood memories watching her before school eating a bowl of cereal. Makes me miss my Mom & Dad and my childhood home. May she rest in peace!
So sorry for your loss. Meet her many years ago at woi Christmas parties. Through my grandfather Jack Banks. Ran into her many times she spoke of him and them working at woi. She was kind again sorry for your loss
I’m so sorry for your loss. I watched her every day when I was a kid and since I moved away when I married I didn’t have to chance to share it with my kids. What a wonderful legacy she has.
Betty Lou--I'm so sorry you're gone, but more importantly, I'm so glad you were here and for so long. I love how you started off as a fond childhood memory, and then grew along with us, creating even more programs that sought to enlighten and do good things. I got to work with you once, and it was just as good an experience as I hoped it would be. Thanks for being here.
Your mother will always hold a place in heart and in my memories. The brightest times of my youth was watching her on the Magic Window and to this day, any time I pull out a box of aluminum foil I chuckle at the times my own mother was frustrated by the lack of it in the house. God Bless.
Sorry to hear of Betty Lou's passing. I watched her show when I was a kid and enjoyed what she diid for the kids and what she made out of construction paper. I enjoyed the cartoons. She will be missed . Prayers for the family.
Thank-you, BettyLou for the hours of “Magic Window” programming watched by hundreds of youngsters in Central Iowa! We all grew up with Gregory Lion and the magic looking-glass. We all looked forward to that time when we got to be part of this wonderful time of imagination. We hope your family is finding comfort in knowing that their mom was a great friend to so many.
I once cut my dad's paycheck into a lantern from the craft corner -- I did NOT ask my mother if it was alright if I used scissors. Then I had to explain what I had done to the bank teller when we went to deposit it. That show and this lady were the best of Iowa!
Tales of the Riverbank are forever etched in my memories. Such a simpler time in life. Betty Lou is legend to all of us who glued ourselves to the television to watch. She was an incredible human.
Growing up on a farm back in the 70’s my sister and I loved The Magic Window. She taught us so much and we can’t thank her enough.
Prayers and so sorry for your loss. I grew up watching magic window and then my son watched it. She is a happy memory of my childhood.
She will be in our hearts forever. I loved her so much when it came time for kindergarten, I begged to go in the afternoon so I could watch the Magic Window in the morning. I'm 64 yrs old and will always love her
My deepest sympathies to Betty's children. I watched your mother's TV program growing up. She was a beautiful Soul! My she have eternal rest and YB2STHpeace! Thomas
I have such sweet memories of Betty Lou and the house with the magi window . Prayers to all who loved her .
What a beautifully written tribute to an inspiration to so many children. Betty Lou's was a life well lived, and she holds a special place in the hearts of so many children, but no more I'm sure than that of her family. RIP sweet lady.
I also grew up watching Magic Window. This is where I developed my love of Scotch tape, markers, construction paper, and crafting. Her lessons served me well when I became an early childhood teacher! Sympathy to your family. Betty Lou brought much joy to generations of Iowans.
Betty Lou made every day extra-wonderful for me as a little girl! Her multiple usages of aluminum foil and colored paper were inspiring. I loved all of the characters. My children watched her, as well. What a remarkable woman!!!!! I am so thankful that she was given life and adopted by loving people. She made such a huge difference to so many.
I loved her show when I was a youngster. RIP, Betty Lou.
It’s interesting to learn that Betty Lou came from Chicago. I grew up in Chicago with Bozo’s Circus. But as a young mother, new to Des Moines and not a lot of extra money, I really learned to appreciate paper chains, snowflakes, paper dolls, etc. My kids and I always responded when she told Katrina to ‘say a tada!’. And to this day, we thank her for introducing the Riverbank characters that spawned our favorite family Christmas movie, Emmet Otter’s Junk Band Christmas! Thank you Betty Lou and Red for being magic to so many people and may we see you again where the river meets the sea!
I use to dream as a child, of being Betty Lou and the magic window. My Brother and I would watch her every Saturday with all the supplies needed to do the activities to create something lovely for our art collection. And watch cartoons or a cute show. RIP Betty Lou.
Sorry for your loss. Great memories watching the window. She sat with my mom at accura for dinner. She will be missed
RIP Betty Lou. Thanks for the post card when I turned six! That blew my mind! I was a big fan. Hearing the guitar intro on "Tales of the Riverbank" was my first memory of sound and I am now a full time guitar player and teacher thanks to you! You lived a great life. Sending my condolences to the family.
Absolutely loved Betty Lou. In fact I named my favorite doll after her. What an original and awesome Iowa gem. Her scissors were magic and her tape could put the finishing touches on such beautiful crafts. A shining star for so many children. Thank you for so many fond memories!