In Memoriam

Donald Fowler, artistic tastemaker and Dallas playwright, has unexpectedly passed away

Donald Fowler, tastemaker and playwright, passes away unexpectedly

Donald Fowler
Donald Fowler Photo courtesy of Nasher Sculpture Center
Donald Fowler in The Wild Party
Fowler in The Wild Party at Uptown Players. Photo courtesy of Uptown Players
Creep talkback at WaterTower Theatre
Fowler participates in a talk-back for Creep at WaterTower Theatre. Photo courtesy of Kevin Gunter
Terry Loftis, Donald Fowler, Denise Lee at the Creep gala
Terry Loftis, Fowler, and Denise Lee at the gala for Creep. Photo courtesy of WaterTower Theatre
Donald Fowler in rehearsals for Creep
Fowler in rehearsals for Creep. Photo courtesy of WaterTower Theatre
Nine at ICT MainStage
Fowler starred as Guido in Nine at ICT MainStage in 2008. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Felton
Floyd Collins at Plano Repertory Theatre in 2001
Fowler as Homer and Stan Graner as Floyd Collins at Plano Repertory Theatre in 2001. Photo courtesy of Stan Graner
Falsettos at Uptown Players
Fowler as Marvin in Falsettos at Uptown Players. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Riggs
Donald Fowler teaching at Our Productions
Fowler teaches the Meisner technique to student Taysir Jallad and Annie Vaughan, part of the Young Artist Training Program of Our Productions Theatre Co. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Riggs
Seth Womack and Donald Fowler at the Creep afterparty
Seth Womack and Fowler following the closing night of Creep. Photo courtesy of Seth Womack
Donald Fowler and Vonda Bowling in 2009
Fowler and Vonda Bowling in 2019. Photo courtesy of Vonda Bowling
Keith J. Warren, Donald Fowler, Glenn Franklin, Max J. Swarner after the original Creep workshop in 2010
Keith J. Warren, Donald Fowler, Glenn Franklin, Max J. Swarner after the original Creep workshop in 2010. Photo courtesy of Keith J. Warren
Donald Fowler
Donald Fowler in The Wild Party
Creep talkback at WaterTower Theatre
Terry Loftis, Donald Fowler, Denise Lee at the Creep gala
Donald Fowler in rehearsals for Creep
Nine at ICT MainStage
Floyd Collins at Plano Repertory Theatre in 2001
Falsettos at Uptown Players
Donald Fowler teaching at Our Productions
Seth Womack and Donald Fowler at the Creep afterparty
Donald Fowler and Vonda Bowling in 2009
Keith J. Warren, Donald Fowler, Glenn Franklin, Max J. Swarner after the original Creep workshop in 2010

Donald Fowler, who led a notable career in both Dallas retail and theater, has suddenly passed away at age 58. The Nasher Sculpture Center, where he was the director of retail, announced his death on May 5. The Dallas Voice reports that he passed on May 3, after being struck by a DART streetcar while jogging.

"Charismatic and full of warmth, Donald joined the Nasher team in 2016, revitalizing the Nasher Store with his expert eye for objects and his gifted approach to customer service, bringing joy, energy, and tenderness to every interaction, both with visitors to the museum and to his colleagues," says the Nasher Facebook post.

Fowler was also an actor, playwright, and composer, appearing in productions at Uptown Players and other theaters around DFW beginning 20 years ago. His Jack the Ripper-inspired musical, Creep, enjoyed a fully produced world premiere at WaterTower Theatre in 2015. Despite not having any formal training, Fowler composed the score himself.

"It goes without saying Dallas lost a talented artist," says Craig Lynch, co-artistic director of Uptown Players. "Donald Fowler was instrumental in the growth of not only Uptown Players but continuing his brilliance to help enrich the Dallas art scene. His kind soul, friendship, and keen eye for artistic excellence will be missed by many. It will take a long time for the Dallas arts community to recover from this loss. We all lost a loving and dear friend."

"My heart is broken over the loss of Donald," says Stephanie Riggs, a performer and artistic director of Our Productions Theatre Co. "I have known him for almost 20 years as a co-actor, director, writer, teacher, and most of all, a friend. Most recently, he was mentoring students of the Young Artist Training Program, where he was sharing his knowledge and love of Meisner with the students. No surprise, he was also a gifted teacher and connected instantly with the students. He spoke with them just a few weeks ago via video with advice and words of encouragement during this time of quarantine. This is a terrible loss to the community, and to all of us that called him a friend."

"Donald was so passionate about this show [Creep], and I will never forget this experience," says Kevin Gunter, who was the musical director and conductor for the production. "He called me a few times last year to chat about his next show and other productions of Creep being stage elsewhere; he was so excited. He is gone far too soon."

Prior to joining the Nasher team, Fowler headed up the retail shop Nest on McKinney Avenue, which closed in 2016.

"He had a rare and bright presence among us, and he will be greatly missed," states the Nasher Sculpture Center. No funeral arrangements have been announced.