Robin Williams’ neighbors mourn ‘funny man’ who walked pug, joked with kids

Asphyxia from an apparent suicide is what officials are initially saying is the cause of death for 63-year-old comedian Robin Williams, ahead of an official coroner’s report.


News of Robin Williams’ death came in many ways to those who gathered here on a blue-skied Monday evening to mourn and pay respects.

Kelly Cook, 50, who lives just down the street, got a call from her mother while she was at work at a Sausalito educational company. She went to the store, chose orange gerbera daisies and was the first to drop a bouquet at the gate.

Williams and his family were Cook’s neighbors before they moved two blocks down the way. She called him “brilliant,” as well as “really quiet and private.” An avid cyclist, he was often seen riding the Paradise loop, which hugs the Tiburon peninsula.


Cook’s children called him “the funny man” and would greet him as such when he was out walking his pug, Lenny (after another famous comedian). He joked around easily with them, Cook said, “because they were kids.”

Cook’s voice cracked Monday as she walked toward Williams’ home with her labradoodle named Mac, carrying the vivid flowers she’d selected because “I thought the color would be uplifting.”

“It’s just so sad when depression takes someone like that,” she said, sharing that her good friend had also committed suicide.

The single-story home with a Spanish tile roof backs onto stunning views of San Francisco Bay. On Monday, a Land Rover and Lexus SUV sat parked in front of the three-car garage.

Megan Thorpe, 25, of Mill Valley, worked all night as a nanny Sunday, and was asleep when her phone started bleeping. A dozen texts flooded in from friends, all sharing the news. Thorpe threw on some clothes, bought three red roses and arrived just after Cook.

She had fallen in love with Williams as a girl watching “Aladdin.” When she moved to the Bay Area a year ago, one of the first things she did was pay a visit to the “Doubtfire house” in San Francisco.

“He was a great man,” she said Monday, as news crews began to crowd the quiet street not far from the Tiburon Yacht Club. Even with fame and riches, she said, he “was appreciative of what he had” and did so much for “so many charities.” Yet none of those riches helped him with the darkness.

“It’s really sad,” she said, echoing Cook, “to see what depression can do. Sometimes you have demons and you just can’t fight them.”

Sandy Kleiman and her daughter, Sarah, 19, moved to the neighborhood just a few months ago and had little contact with Williams, only seeing him come and go. Monday the pair stood back and quietly watched the media hubbub.

Sandy got to love Williams watching “Mork and Mindy,” Sarah through “Aladdin.” “He’s influenced so many generations,” the younger Kleiman said.

Sandy Kleiman, as it happens, had the privilege of sharing a meal with Williams about three decades ago in Los Angeles, when she was pursuing acting. “It was probably the funniest evening I’ve spent in my life,” she said. “It’s a loss.”

Bill Howard came to pay respects in honor of Williams’ mother. Howard, 58, had worked for her for years, hauling discards to the dump, and delivering food to her (she died in 2001). She spoke often of her son, said Howard, who had met the actor a number of times.

“He was always joking around,” Howard said. “He used to say we looked like each other. I’d say ‘Is that good or bad?’ and he’d say, ‘Your choice.’”

But Howard, who like Cook also found himself contemplating a friend’s suicide -- what he called “the ultimate self-punishment” -- noticed something else.

“He always had this sadness about him,” he said, “this melancholy.”

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