where the writers are
Farewell our Quacker Lady


If you’ve read my blog for a while, you kind of know that QVC is a favorite at my house. The UPS man is on a first name basis with me as he stops by my driveway. And yes, I feel like I’ve gotten to know some of the spokespeople that come on QVC. Marie Osmond sells her dolls,Jennifer Kirk sells whimsical jewelry called Kirk’s Folly. So I was saddened by the death of a QVC original, a lady who embraced life to the fullest. Her name was Jeanne Bice.

Jeanne Bice had a story that is familiar to many: Happily married to her husband Butch, she had two little boys and very happy living in a small town in Wisconsin.  Then Butch died, and left her destitute. In Bice’s own words, “she pulled herself up by her bra straps” and created a clothing line. She wanted to create clothes that all women could wear, not just Skinny Minnies. She also wanted them to be affordable. So when QVC came calling, she came running over to them.

It was always so easy to spot her: Edith Head had her glasses, Tim Gunn always says “Make It Work.” Well, Bice had her headbands. Yep, headbands. You thought they went out in the '80s, didn’t you? Yet Bice sported those headbands with style, baby. And her clothes had snowflakes, gltter, and yeah, ducks. According to Parade magazine, when she made her debut on QVC, the clothes sold out within minutes. Thus, a legend was born.

Bice would come once a month, then chat with the hosts. Usually they’d share a cup of coffee, chat like girlfriends (or platonic boyfriends) and, oh yeah, sell stuff.  She had a strong following called “Quackers.” They liked wearing her bright colors, something spiffy.

One time my mother was bored with her clothes. This was easy to figure out; her main colors are blue and brown. In Carrie Fisher’s words, she dresses like a bruise. So one day Mom was watching QVC and saw a jeans jacket with rhinestones on the collar. Impulsively, she ordered it. It came five days later, and when I saw it I called it “Elvis Left The Building.” Dad saw it and said “Jean, do you need another jacket? I’ll buy you another jacket.” And yet, I’m glad she bought that jacket, because she went outside her comfort zone, and bought something fun. Did I also mention she gets more compliments on this jacket than any other clothes she has?

I didn’t always agree with Bice; let’s just say she was a big fan of tea parties, not the Alice in Wonderland kind. Yet I always admire people that manages to make something out of nothing, that can laugh at herself, and always always have fun.

When I heard of Bice’s death, I felt incredibly sad. When I Googled her name, I realized many other people, men and women felt that same sadness. All the QVC hosts wrote tributes to her on their facebook pages. Mary Beth Roe did a tribute to her on her show, with many coffee cups on the table. It felt right, seeing all those coffee cups. There was just one person missing. And her presence was terribly missed.