Ann Varnum, an iconic television personality in the Wiregrass for almost 50 years, had a knack for calming nervous guests to her popular talk show.

“Don’t look at the camera,” one visitor recalled her saying. “We’re just a couple of friends talking.”

Varnum, who died Wednesday night at 80 after an illness of several months, is remembered fondly for her television career, but she started her professional life as a teacher, an avocation that she maintained through her personal interactions, and through a weekly column published in the Dothan Eagle, in which she taught lessons by sharing stories of her faith.

Ann Varnum touched many lives in many ways, and her gentle grace ensures her legacy.

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