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Charles Pray (Chuck and Don)
Born:  November 15, 1896
Died:  November 10, 1951
WHO Iowa Barn Dance Frolic

About The Artist

Charles Pray was part of a duo on the old WHO Iowa Barn Dance Frolic show out of Des Moines, Iowa. Charles played the accordion. He was part of the "Chuck and Don" duo that also handled some comedic chores on the show as well.

In 1937, they helped introduce audiences to a new singer who had don an audition. He was a baritone; Juan Ricardo. He was heard for the first time over the air on the show, Cownie Serenades. He was accompanied by Charles Pray on the piano and Don Hovey with his singing violin. The show was sponsored by the Cownie Tanning Company, manufacturers of Cownie Furs. The show was produced by Harold Fair.

Promo Ad - Valley View Park - Buzz and Bayou Boys of Washington - July 1955 In 1938, he was part of the four person "Sunset Corners Symphony." The group included Bill Williams, Fid Prescott, Hank Kristufek, Chuck and Don Hovey. It was said they also had a "...flair for comedy."

He was also seen in a photo called "The Accordion Band" in an old souvenir program. The group photo included Orin Clark, Tommy Coan, Martha Brown, Chuck and Larry Brandt.

Charles lived in the Des Moines area for about 17 years. He was the owner and operator of the Music Center Store that was on Eleventh Street.

He gave accordion lessons to students. Newspaper stories would promote musical recitals for students to showcase their talents. Charles would often serve as an accompanist or lead an accordion band.

He was a member of the Capital Masonic Lodge, the Za-Ga-Zig Shrine, the Moose lodge, American Legion, Kiwanis Club and the Musicians' union, Local No. 75.

Charles died of a heart ailment November 10, 1951 at the Wilden Osteopathic hospital; he had been ill for about 16 days.

He married the former Leona Salina Cagwin on August 16, 1917 in Toledo, Iowa. She was born June 3, 1899; died November 26, 1986. They had two children, Donald and Gwendolyn.

Credits & Sources

  • WHO Des Moines 1938 Picture Book; 1938; Des Moines, IA
  • Services Today For Charles Pray; November 12, 1951; The Des Moines Register; Des Moines, IA
  • Charles Pray Dies; November 12, 1951; The Gazette; Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Recital Series Will Begin Monday Night; December 13, 1936; The Des Moines Register; Des Moines, IA
  • First Program in Recital Series Will Be Today; May 21, 1937; The Des Moines Register; Des Moines, IA
  • Five Recitals Will Given During Week; May 30, 1937; The Des Moines Register; Des Moines, IA
  • To Entertain This Friday; December 13, 1937; Des Moines Tribune; Des Moines, IA
  • WHO Discovers New Radio Personality; March 19, 1937; Carroll Daily Herald; Carroll, IA