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Marlow Cowan, whose performance at Mayo made him a YouTube star, dead at 97

Marlow Cowan, whose performance at Mayo made him a YouTube star, dead at 97

"Do you think there will be a piano in heaven I can play?" 

Those were some of Marlow Cowan's last words, according to his daughter. The 97-year-old, who along with his wife, Frances, became Mayo Clinic's best-known musical duo, recently died at age 97. 

Together, Marlow and Frances became an Internet sensation in 2008 when an impromptu performance in the Gonda atrium was recorded and uploaded to YouTube. The video — which landed them an interview on Good Morning America — has since been viewed more than 11 million times.

The Ankeny, Iowa couple made multiple trips back to Rochester over the years for medical appointments — often stopping by the piano to bring some cheer to patients and staff walking by. A special concert was held at the clinic in 2011 for the couple's final public performance.

"God gave us all talents," Marlow said in a 2009 interview with Mayo. "And the purpose of these talents is we're supposed to use them. We happen to have a talent in music and humor. So you put them together, and [do] whatever we can that will make life more enjoyable for others."

 

The couple was married for almost 70 years. "The music is what drew us together to begin with," Frances said in a 2011 PBS special on health and marriage. "Because he could play anything on the piano."

For further reading, check out "Memories of Marlow Cowan" by Lee Aase, a communications director at Mayo Clinic who knew Marlow personally.


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(Cover graphic: The Med City Beat, photo: Mayo Clinic)

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