A central Iowa man is believed to be the only full-time hand bell repairman on the continent.Marlow Cowan fell into the bell business by necessity in the early 1950s when he was music director for the Des Moines Y-M-C-A. Some 200 kids were ringing 300 bells and when they got damaged, there was no one to fix them. Cowan taught himself as no repairman existed. He’s still it — and keeps busy with repair orders from around the globe, though he’s never advertised.Cowan’s 82-years-old and runs his international repair trade from a shop beside his Polk County home near Ankeny. He’s fixed hand bells for thousands of churches over the decades. Cowan says it’s an investment to buy a set.Individual bells can cost between one hundred and one thousand dollars, while a full set of 49 bells can run 12-thousand.Cowan says his reward is doing a good job and hearing the joyful sound of bells.
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