Magazine

Alumni video goes viral

DU has its own viral video star: In 2008, Marlow Cowan (MSW ’49) and his wife, Fran, gave an impromptu concert on the piano in the Mayo Clinic atrium in Rochester, Minn., while killing time between medical tests. Their rollicking performance of “Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet” was filmed by the daughter of another patient and has since gone viral, viewed by more than 7.5 million people worldwide.

The Cowans, who live in Iowa, pursued their musical avocation — vocals, accordion and handbell-ringing, in addition to piano — throughout Marlow’s 27-year career at the YMCA, where he organized groups of teen bell-ringers who performed around the world, and for another 16 years at the Des Moines VA Hospital, where he provided music therapy for vets from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In retirement, the Cowans continue to bring musical joy to schools, hospitals and nursing homes. They were invited back to the Mayo Clinic for a follow-up performance in 2010 and were interviewed for the clinic’s website.

The Cowans also appeared in two national PBS documentaries last year: “Over 90 and Loving It” and a segment of the “Need to Know” series about the positive impact a happy marriage can have on health. The couple has been married for 63 years.

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