NEW LONDON — Bill Gossman is many things.
He’s the mayor of New London.
He’s an award-winning potter with a wood-fired kiln in his backyard and a retail shop on Main Street New London.
He’s a penny-whistle, harmonica-playing musician and singer with the Green Lake Bluegrass Band.
He is a husband, father and brother.
And now, Gossman is a cancer fighter.
Gossman, who turns 67 next week, is currently undergoing treatment at Mayo in Rochester for a unique and aggressive form of cancer.
Shortly after Christmas he was diagnosed with squamous cancer that started in his pelvic floor, near his colon. It has since metastasized in his liver.
Gossman has been at Mayo since early February for a grueling regime of palliative radiation and chemotherapy to reduce the tumor and pain.
Treatments are going well, said Janne Gossman in a telephone interview Tuesday. Starting next week, she said her husband is expected to continue chemo treatments in Willmar.
During his absence from town, family and friends have kept Gossman’s pottery shop open and the mayor pro tem has been running New London City Council meetings.
But his illness means that for the first time since the Green Lake Bluegrass Band has put on its annual Cabin Fever Concert at the Little Theatre in New London, Gossman will not be there this Saturday playing Irish tunes on his penny whistle, harmonica on a blues song, singing fan favorite “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” or telling jokes during song transitions.
Instead, the 7 p.m. concert is being dedicated to Gossman with proceeds from ticket sales going to the family. Donations will also be accepted at the concert, said Dave Eliason, who leads the group.
Gossman has been playing with the band for about 23 years and turning the concert into a fundraiser for the family was the natural thing to do, Eliason said.
“He’s a well-loved and unique, small-town figure we’ve all come to enjoy and love,” Eliason said. “We’re sure praying for him and his family.”
This is the 10th year for the annual Cabin Fever Concert. It’s a way to “give folks a little bit of a break when winter is getting long and we’re sick of it,” said Eliason. “So we did this to bring a little cheer to a lonely, cold Minnesotan’s winter doldrums.”
This year, Mayor Bill Gossman will be one of the recipients of that cheer.
“I’m just overwhelmed with the outpouring of generosity from friends and neighbors,” said Gossman in a brief telephone conversation. “It feels nice.”
Once he gets his strength back, Gossman intends to return to the potter’s wheel, playing music and being mayor.
For information about concert tickets go to www.newlondonlittletheatre.org