Rest in Peace Fred Cowan

The puppetry world has lost a dear family member.  I have just learned Fred Cowan passed away yesterday.  He was known and loved by many and will be missed.  I first met Fred back in November of 2002, at the Great Lakes Regional puppetry gathering Potlatch.  It was my first time there, and I was a “newbie” in the puppetry family.

Cyril the Sea Serpent performing at Potlatch 2002, Angola Indiana

At Potlatch, puppeteers are welcome to participate during potpourri event, think of it as an open-mic for puppeteers.  I was a bit nervous, my hands were not steady, and Cyril had not quite developed into the character his is today.  Yet I did my five minutes, by retelling an embarrassing true story.  The puppeteers in the audience chuckled and applauded.  I guess I was doing something right.  As I left the stage and went to sit down to watch the other puppeteers, Fred came up to me to offer kind words of praise.  I remember he said, “I like what you’re doing.”  That simple sentence boosted my confidence and made me happy.  At the time I didn’t know that Fred had been a puppeteer for many years.  I also learned that designed the Chuck E. Cheese costume characters.  He even performed at The White House!  Wow!

Several years later I drove to his home in Indiana with members of the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild for a Great Lakes Puppetry Guilds gathering.  He was very kind and showed us around his workshop filled with his puppets.  I was able to shoot this video of Fred performing his Dolly Parton puppet:

Sadly this was to be the last time I would see Fred in person.  Fred had many friends in the puppetry world.  I am happy that I can be counted as one of them.

Rest in Peace Fred.