Kate Cowley’s September wedding will be a first for the bride-elect, for groom-elect Tom Dolan and for the Reverend Don Shelby.
Shelby, the retired WCCO-TV anchor, has done the paperwork and paid the fees to become an officiant so that he can perform the marriage of the eldest daughter of former Twin Cities anchor Pat Miles, who worked alongside Shelby at WCCO but was last seen on TV behind a KARE 11 anchor desk.
“Yes! Don was absolutely our first choice and we are honored he went through the process of becoming a minister for us!” Cowley e-mailed ahead of our Tuesday phone interview. “He represents so many good things to us: the way he lives his life, his many interests and pursuits and passions. We both look up to him very much. I have always been an admirer of Don’s and, actually, the first time Tom met my mom, we were at Don’s performance in ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show.’ ”
Cowley told me there was even fleeting consideration to having Shelby perform the ceremony dressed in fishnets and high heels — part of the racy costume worn by his “Rocky Horror” character. “We were just joking,” said Cowley. “We decided that would be maybe a little too much for our group. He does a one-man Mark Twain show during the summer, too, so we talked about him coming as Mark Twain and marrying us,’’ she laughed, adding, “I think officiating marriage ceremonies actually might be a new career for him.”
And how did Shelby, a Renaissance man, end up on this path?
“Here’s what happened,” Shelby told me. “A friend of mine asked me to be his best man at his wedding. Then later he said, Why don’t you just marry us, be the officiant? I said, ‘I’m not qualified. I don’t have the paperwork.’ So that kind of hung out there. … Then Pat Miles’ daughter called me. I’ve known Kate Francis since she was born, since she was minutes old, and now she is a full-grown woman and she said, Would you marry me and my husband-to-be? I said, ‘Kate, I don’t have that authority.’ But then I found out how you went about it. … and now I am a registered officiant in the state of Minnesota, so I can marry people.”
How many weddings so far?
“This would be my first. It’s a first for all three,” he said.
A recent grad from St. Paul’s St. Catherine University with a master’s in social work, Cowley is a school social worker; Dolan just started law school. Tom is the son of Mary Dolan and Bill Dolan.
“Tom is a terrifically decent guy,” said Shelby. “Great families they come from, and they’ve written their vows. The ceremonial part that I do is not much more than officiating. I don’t plan to give a big long speech. … But we’ve met for lunch and talked about it and we’ll talk some more, finalize the plan and then in September, not very far away, we’ll be having the ceremony.”
He said he recently asked a minister in Wayzata how long it took him to get through seminary and be ordained. “He said nine years. I said, ‘It took me 15 minutes on the Internet,’ ” Shelby laughed. “The point is, my glass is running out, and I may not have nine years to complete a divinity degree. The Internet offers a world of short cuts to a man in my position. I have a little card that I can hang on my mirror for parking as clergy. I am the Reverend Don Shelby.”
We were already laughing when Shelby said, “Listen, don’t Google this yet. If you Google the Reverend Don Shelby, you’ll end up with a brother.”
That’ll be doubly funny to readers who remember that long ago I elevated Shelby to Honorary Black Guy Stature.
“I could become an official astronaut at some point before I die,” laughed Shelby. “My next big [venture] is to try to get into a national academy of sciences.”
Businessman Dave Cowley of Cowley Incentives, will walk his daughter down the aisle. Sister Betsy Cowley, now an Oakland, Calif., resident and formerly the child who horrified her mom by blabbing to me when I called the Miles-Cowley residence, “is my maid of honor,” said Kate.
Congrats to all.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.