From his den overlooking Mill Creek, the family pond, and 100 acres of cherished land, Dennis Fowler talks about his life, his family, and Otego – the town and village he has called home for 50 years.
Looking back Fowler says, “Peggy and I lived in New York in the early 1970’s and we wanted to get out of there.” There had been a heinous crime in their building and they set out to find a new place to live. They were somewhat familiar with Watkins Glen but also knew a little bit about Otsego County.
“We called Wilber Bank and told them we were looking for land and, by coincidence, someone had just been at the bank with land to sell.” The couple bought the property and stayed.
A Princeton graduate in economics, Dennis had by then embarked on his successful life-long writing career. He now has nearly 60 books to his credit – romance novels, computer trade columns, and publications, as well as a recent science fiction novel, “Earth’s Song.” The Town of Otego was the perfect place to have time and space to both think and write.
There was a drafty house near the road but over time the Fowlers knew they needed a new home. As they were building the house Dennis lives in still, they lived in a mobile home on the property, courtesy of Peggy’s father.
Then, while on vacation, they got a call from a neighbor.
“Your house is on fire!”
“Which one?” Dennis replied.
By this time their daughter Celeste had come along. She was Dennis and Peggy’s only child. “She was an actual genius, and her curiosity was endlessly deep, ” her father noted with matter-of-fact pride. The family of three not only loved their house, property, and community, but Dennis soon developed a deeply personal interest in the Harris Memorial Library.
He attended a library board meeting and suggested a way to build out and expand the current library space. After a lengthy discussion by the board, Dennis decided he’d take care of the project himself. The board realized that someone as smart and interested as Dennis shouldn’t get away. He was asked to become library board president.
Peggy too became deeply involved in the community. She was a key to the successes of Orpheus Theatre and Habitat for Humanity. Celeste went on to Princeton, then spent time in Silicon Valley, after which she refocused her life on nature and oceanography, attending the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Looking back on his life in Otego and missing both Peggy and Celeste, both sadly passed, Dennis was searching for a way to give back to the place he loves. When he heard the work the Community Foundation of Otsego County was doing and hoped to do, he saw a perfect partner. He opened a Field of Interest Fund housed at CFOC – The Greater Otego Library and Education Fund. The fund is focused on maintaining the Harris Memorial Library building, supporting library programs and operations, and encouraging activities to educate and enhance the lives of all the people of Otego.
Dennis’ love for Otego and his piece of it is obvious in every sentence he speaks. He excitedly mentions a Bald Eagle that appeared in one of his trees that morning. While he watches the world outside his window Fowler expresses great hopes for his hometown and village: “Otego is such a wonderful place. I just want to see it succeed.”
For Dennis Fowler that isn’t simply talk. By establishing The Greater Otego Library and Education Fund within the Community Foundation of Otsego County, Dennis is helping make his dreams a reality.
Donor Profile: Tara Sumner and Advocates for Springfield create a Field of Interest Fund with the Community Foundation of Otsego County
Tara Sumner lives in Springfield and has served 21