From the Good Morning America Archive: Octogenarian Idols

I was asked earlier this week for a link to the video segment for Marlow and Frances Cowan” live in-studio appearance on Good Morning America, so I thought I would just embed it here:

See this post from last year for the story about how this came to be.

“We don’t buy any green bananas”

Words of wisdom from Marlow Cowan, the elder half of the “Octogenarian Idol” piano duo whose YouTube duet at Mayo Clinic…

… has been viewed more than 7.2 million times as of this morning (and which led to their appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America as well as NHK, the national TV network in Japan.)

Marlow is now well past octogenarian status (he’s 91), and his wife Fran celebrated her 85th birthday yesterday. My wife Lisa and I were honored that their daughter, DeDe Shour, invited us to join them for the surprise birthday celebration at their home in Ankeny, Iowa (click any of the photos to enlarge):

We got to see some pictures from their very full life together…

…and then also join their family (even some great-grandchildren) for dinner at the Country Kitchen in Des Moines.

At dinner, Marlow and Fran reflected on how their lives have changed in the last 15 months since their video went viral…

…how they’ve renewed connections with former students and members of the touring youth musical performance groups they hadn’t heard from in decades. They’ve had numerous requests for concerts, but travel isn’t as easy as it used to be. Marlow and Fran both expressed their gratitude to God for their 63 years of marriage and the many blessings he has given them. They see their performances as a way of serving him by sharing those blessings with others, so they do as many as they can.

Marlow said they have certain stipulations when they agree to a concert, one of which is, “They’ve gotta have a back-up act in case something happens to us. We’re not getting any younger, you know!”

At their advanced ages, he said they’ve also developed a couple of rules for their personal lives: “We don’t buy any green bananas. And we eat dessert first.”

Words to live by.

Cowans Make the News

Marlow and Fran Cowan, the elderly couple from Ankeny, Iowa whose piano duet at Mayo Clinic has gone “viral” in the last year (to the tune of more than 6.6 million views to date on YouTube), were the subjects last night of an extended feature on KARE TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune also has a nice article about the Cowans in this morning’s edition.

You can watch and listen to several musical selections from the Cowans’ Feb. 24 return concert at Mayo Clinic on the Mayo Clinic channel on YouTube.

Piano Duo Rocks the House

I had the wonderful opportunity yesterday to help arrange a return visit concert for Marlow and Fran Cowan to the Landow Atrium in the Gonda building on our Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester. You likely remember them as the couple whose piano duet became a YouTube sensation last year, and led to their appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Below is a playlist from our Mayo Clinic YouTube channel, which concludes with their reprise of the number that led to world-wide attention for this couple. He just turned 91 last week, and she’ll be 85 in July. We should all be so spunky, at whatever age we are.

Social Media Connections in Iowa

Yesterday was another of those days that seem to be getting more frequent, in which I met face-to-face someone with whom I had only interacted via social media.

I started the morning with a Tweet (which I also posted to my Facebook status via Tweetdeck), about my travel plans for the day:


To my surprise, a few minutes later a comment showed up from Roy Kenagy, who works with the public library system in central Iowa:


In fact, after a stop in Algona to interview one pair of patients, I was planning to be in Ankeny. So I replied via iPhone and he got me the address:


Which led to us getting to meet for about 15 minutes just before 2, and so I took a picture of Roy and his colleagues (Roy is the one in the middle!)


Another demonstration of the power of social media, particularly Facebook, to make virtual connections real.

I was in Ankeny to meet Marlow and Frances Cowan, the delightful couple whose piano duet at Mayo Clinic has become a YouTube sensation:


You’ll be seeing more of the Cowans in coming days, at which time I’ll be posting some more video and telling the story of how their duet has gone from 1,000 views to more than 1.6 million in a little over a month.

Later last night I got to have a good conversation with some health system communicators in Davenport. I’m uploading those photos to the SMUG Facebook group.

All in all, I have to agree with this assessment from Matt Feyen: