Arts philanthropist and newspaper publisher John Cowles Jr. dies

One of the most significant figures in Twin Cities arts philanthropy has died.

John Cowles Jr., 82, succumbed to lung cancer Saturday evening, surrounded by family.


John Cowles, shown here with his wife Sage. Cowles died Saturday evening from lung cancer

Image courtesy Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts

While his family has a long history in the newspaper industry, Cowles also made his own indelible mark in the arts.

He lured director Tyrone Guthrie to Minneapolis to realize a vision for a professional regional theater company. Cowles helped raise the money for the orignal Guthrie Theater; 40 years later he served as co-chairman of the architecture committee for the new Guthrie complex.

Along with his wife Sage – after which the Sage Awards are named – Cowles also held a pivotal role in the world of dance.

Most recently the couple were recognized with the naming of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Perfoming Arts.

Services are pending.

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