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Mayo Clinic's piano-playing seniors hold keys to long-lasting love

What’s the secret to a successful long-term romance and likable longevity? Ask Iowans Marlow and Frances Cowan, and they’ll likely say fun is the ticket.

Maybe you’ve seen this one.

The elderly couple, married more than 60 years and hailing from Ankeny, Iowa, became an internet sensation in 2009 without even owning a computer.

Visiting the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in September 2008 for several days of testing, the Cowans discovered a grand piano in a bright atrium of the massive medical complex. On the piano was a sign, inviting folks to play.

The couple began tickling the ivories, tapping out a lively and comically choreographed impromptu duet of 1910’s “Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet.” And folks went wild.

Take a look and a listen:


A Mayo patient named Sharon grabbed a video camera and caught the Cowans’ performance. When Sharon’s daughter Jodi uploaded the recording to YouTube, it went viral. More than 7.7 million have viewed it so far. The couple has been featured on “Good Morning, America” and Japanese TV.

The Mayo Clinic even had them back for an encore performance last year.

“We’re praising the Lord,” Marlow said in a videotaped interview. “That’s the reason we’re doing this.”

Based on the polish of their public performances, we can only assume Marlow and Frances Cowan have tried this at home – many, many times. And, when it comes to long-lasting love and laughter, surely practice makes perfect.

“My three brothers and I are so very proud of them,” wrote the Cowans’ daughter DeDe Cowan Shour. “God has done great things through them to bring a smile or a laugh to millions of people all over the world. This was an answer to their prayer that God would find some way to use them to bring joy to others in their old age.”

Maybe we need to ask ourselves: Are we having fun yet?

Video screenshots

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