Actress Betty Lynn, who played Barney Fife’s girlfriend Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show, enjoyed meeting fans at the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, North Carolina, where she retired. “I think God’s blessed me,” she said of moving to the place where Andy was born. “He brought me to a sweet town.”

Before Betty passed away in October 2021 at age 95, she finished writing her memoir, Becoming Thelma Lou: My Journey to Hollywood, Mayberry and Beyond. “Andy Griffith said that the eight seasons on the old Griffith show … were the happiest years of his professional life,” Betty wrote. “I have to say that they were the happiest of my career, too.”

As Barney’s ever-patient girlfriend, Betty shared many of her scenes with Don Knotts, whom she adored. “He was a quiet man,” she wrote. “When the director said, ‘Action,’ then — boom! Barney exploded exploded to life right before your eyes.”

Betty also had great respect for Andy, the show’s star and guiding light, although she admits he liked to tease. “His teasing sometimes made me angry, but deep down I knew it was just his way of letting me know that I was one of the gang,” she wrote, adding Andy also needled Don by calling him “Jesse,” his given first name. “Andy knew Don hated it,” wrote Betty. “They were like brothers.”

When Don left the show in 1965, Thelma Lou was also written out. “I truly felt like it was the end of an era for me,” Betty wrote. However, it wasn’t quite over. Betty reprised the role in 1986’s TV movie Return to Mayberry, where her character finally marries Barney. Said Betty: “I can’t think of a thing I ever did that meant as much to me as playing Thelma Lou.”