Donald Robert Fowler, a longtime resident of Dallas, beloved uncle, dear friend, valued member of the North Texas theater community, and successful leader in the world of luxury retail, died unexpectedly on Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Dallas.
Donald, born on November 13, 1961, is survived by his step-father, Roger Horn of Los Angeles, brother Chris Fowler and sister-in-law Nancy, of Kansas City, his niece Ali, age 23, and nephew Zachary, age 15, and his large family of friends.
Donald was a dedicated brother and uncle, often making unplanned trips to be with his family and going out of his way to attend important events. He took special pleasure in supporting his niece and nephew in their childhood achievements. To his family, he was a genuinely profound source of love, joy and inspiration.
After graduating from Cooper High School, Abilene, Texas, in 1980, Donald studied Mass Communications at Texas Tech University and University of North Texas, before relocating to Los Angeles, where he studied acting at Playhouse West. He later returned to Texas, settling in Dallas.
Donald was a talented and spirited actor, writer and composer, collaborating with many theaters in North Texas. He appeared in productions at WaterTower Theatre (Parade, Our Town, Man of La Mancha, Company, Rockin’ Christmas Party, Sweeney Todd, Enter the Guardsman, Working), Uptown Players (Wild Party, Kiss of the Spider Woman, A New Brain, Falsettos), ICT Mainstage (Nine), Theatre Three (I Love You, Your Perfect, Now Change!, Elegies, Company, Saturday Night), Irving Arts Center (Bells are Ringing), Echo Theatre (Cloud 9) and Plano Repertory Theatre (Songs for a New World), among others. He was the recipient of a 2001 Leon Rabin Award for his performance in Floyd Collins at Plano Repertory Theatre. He had a particularly long association with WaterTower Theatre. In 2005, he premiered his one-man show Jacket Required at WaterTower’s Out of the Loop Festival and in the Fall of 2015, premiered at WaterTower his musical Creep: The Very, Very Sad but Unfortunately True and Completely Fabricated Tale of Jack the Ripper. The production of Creep received a 2016 Column Award for Outstanding New Work by a Local Playwright. In addition, he was the author of the plays The Politics of Up and Peggy Lee on the Midway. Most recently, Creep was performed in concert at the Texas Tech School of Theatre and Dance in November 2019.
Terry Martin, former Producing Artistic Director at WaterTower Theatre shared, “With the utmost bravery, grace, beauty, and undaunted optimism, Donald’s dedication to his artistic craft was inspiring to many. I offer ‘Bravo’ once again to his spirit and talent. Let us fill the massive hole left in our hearts with the gratefulness for the memory of all he brought to us.”
Donald had an equally stellar roster of roles in the world of Dallas retail. He began as a Sales Associate at Translations, spent many years as Senior Buyer and Manager for the Home Shop at Stanley Korshak and then held the position of Senior Buyer and Manager at Nest. Most recently, Donald worked as Director of Retail at the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Nest proprietor Heather Wiese-Alexander recalls “he was adept in cultivating talent, creating music, curating beauty and being the epicenter of fun and comfort when a friend needed it most.”
“As effective as Donald was in managing the Nasher store, he was also a hugely valued member of the Nasher team, actively collaborating with other departments, encouraging others in their work, volunteering his help whenever he saw the opportunity,” recalls Nasher Director Jeremy Strick. “Many of us were fortunate to receive unsolicited words of encouragement and support from Donald, and his sympathetic, caring demeanor brought many of us comfort. We will long remember all the sophistication, humor, warmth and kindness that he brought to our lives.”
Due to restrictions in place surrounding COVID-19, funeral arrangements at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home will be private. However, a public memorial celebrating Donald’s life and art will be planned in the future.
Donations in Donald’s memory to the Donald Fowler Theater Arts Memorial Fund may be made online to The Dallas Foundation at dallasfoundation.org/donaldfowlermemorial or by mail to Donald Fowler Theater Arts Memorial Fund c/o The Dallas Foundation, 3963 Maple Avenue, Suite 390, Dallas, Texas 75219.
Donald’s love, enthusiasm and creative genius were an inspiration to many. His life, music, stories, and generous spirit will live on. It is impossible to capture all the things he was to each of us. We invite everyone to share their personal memories of Donald.