Think you’re “too old” to use social media? Then you might want to check out the 2008 YouTube video of Iowans Marlow S. Cowan (MSW ’49) and his wife, Fran, playing the piano in the Mayo Clinic atrium 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 7.5 million people worldwide. The Cowans pursued their musical avocation – vocals, accordion and handbell-ringing, in addition to piano – throughout Marlow’s 27-years career at the YMCA, where he organized groups of teen bell-ringers who performed around the world, and another 16 years at the Des Moines V. A. 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, and they’ve been invited back to the Mayo Clinic for a follow-up performance in celebration of the Clinic’s 100th Anniversary in 2012.
Marlow S. Cowan, MSW ’49