In Memory

Roger R. Cowger

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05/29/16 10:33 AM #1    

Howard Hodson

I knew Roger from the 8th grade  I played French Horn and he played Bassoon in the Jordan Jr High orchestra

He was a good friend throughout our years at Paly

The following is an excerpt from the Palo Alto newspaper:

Roger R. Cowger, 65, a Palo Alto native, died June 2. He graduated from Palo Alto High School and majored in music at both San Jose City College and San Francisco State University. He was a musician by trade, entertainer by heart. He began playing the piano at age 10, writing original compositions at 11, and by 13 was playing bassoon with the California Youth Symphony. He played with the symphony for two years. He discovered theater while a student at Palo Alto High School. He took musical director positions and conducted scores. While at San Jose City College, he did not let go of music. He co-wrote the school fight song and hymn. At San Francisco State his budding interest in folk music lead to the creation of "The Noblemen." Though this group played many local clubs, his second folk group, "Saturday's Children," was a bigger commercial success. Started in 1961, "Saturday's Children" released an album for ABC Paramount and toured nationally. They played clubs, local television stations and colleges. Once he returned to Palo Alto, he started a career of entertaining restaurant diners as a pianist. Between 1966 and 1997, he played many restaurants throughout the area. He started at Palo Alto's L'Omelette and moved to Dinah's Shack in 1969. In 1970, he started playing the Prime Rib Inn and developed his comedic side. He even took his show to hotels such as Rickey's Hyatt. While on stage at the Radisson Inn Sunnyvale in 1997, he suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He lost his left leg due to complications, and soon after lost his right leg. He never played in public again, and he feared he would no longer be able to play the piano. Yet, the Mechanical Engineering Design Division at Stanford University took him on as a project. Working in conjunction with the company PianoDisc, they developed a device that allowed him to pedal the piano. He kept playing for family members even through his health problems. He is survived by his brothers, Ronald Cowger of Granite Bay, Calif., Jeffrey Cowger of Fremont, Calif., and Christopher Cowger of Palo Alto; a cousin Sherry Haiflich of Mountain View, Calif.; and nieces and nephews. A celebration commemorating his life is planned for a later date.

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