Gary Lawrence Cowling died in the morning hours on August 17, 2020. From his home state of Virginia to his adopted city of New York, Gary was adored by family, friends, actors, and allies who shared his love of theatre, unswerving dedication to HIV Aids research and advocacy, and joyful celebration of humanity in its gorgeous variety. Those fortunate to walk for a time in his circle knew what it was to be blessed. Gary was born November 4, 1961 in Newport News, VA, the treasured son of Marian Hough Cowling (Gibbs) and Dr. Lawrence Stanley Cowling. A 1984 graduate of The College of William and Mary in Virginia, he achieved his Master’s Degree at the University of West Virginia and pursued his dream of a life in the theatre.
Gary interned with the Circle Repertory Theatre and performed in New York and regional theatre. After the Law & Order hat trick he had featured roles in the films “The Accidental Husband” and “The Namesake”. Honored with a Carbonell nomination for “Take Me Out” at the Caldwell Theatre in Florida, Gary was also the zany harness flying “Other book guy” in a series of Yellow Book commercials. Under the name Gary Larkin, he penned a column in Theatre Week Magazine which included lessons in audience etiquette. He co-produced and was featured in the award winning web series “Hustling”. Gary was the proud recipient of an alumni award from the LGBTQ Association from his undergraduate alma mater. He studied for years with the late great Michael Howard, and taught on camera acting at Brooklyn College.
Gary and his close friends danced at the first GMHC Dance-A-Thon in 1990 and his proudest achievement was leading the W&M Aids walk team for GMHC from 2000 to 2019, helping to raise more than a quarter million dollars.
Gary’s world was expansive and loving, and there are countless folk who felt that embrace. Chief among them are his cousin Judy Cowling of Virginia Beach, VA, Denise and Geoff Wade of Williamsburg, VA, Chris Quartana and Patrick Boyd of New York City, Dana and Rick Hutson and their children, Frank and Gary’s goddaughter Aubrey Hutson, Judith Clarke and Dean Harrison of Pennington, NJ and their sons, Beckett and Gary’s godson Owen Harrison.
Gary Cowling was a true gentleman whom countless people considered their dear friend. He had a laugh that flooded your heart, a voice that was great from the next room and a dance step that defied description.
Those privileged to know him understand that he is in a place where there is no type casting, so he can play whoever he wants… and he will be hosting The Gaggle for Any Party Worth Having Forever…just join him when it feels right. Karen, bring the accordion. Nancy, make something chocolate.
A memorial celebration of Gary will be announced soon. Memorial donations may be sent to The Theatre Department of The College of William & Mary, impact.wm.edu/theatre and gmhc.org/donate. And He Wants You To Vote! #GoYankees
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