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robin williams, zak williams, zelda williams, robin williams tribute
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Williams

"You wonderful, hairy man."

The world lost a bit of its light the day Robin Williams passed away. The beloved actor known for his eccentric comedy skills and generous heart took his own life in August 2014 at the age of 63. He would have been 71 this year.

It’s admittedly a little trite to say “his spirit lives on in his children,” but the phrase certainly feels true when reading the loving, endearing and, of course, humorous tributes made by Willams' son and daughter marking the eighth anniversary of his death.

Zak Williams, 39, shared a picture of his father on social media with a caption that read, “Dad, on the eighth anniversary of your passing, I'm remembering how incredibly kind and joyful you were. I deeply miss you you wonderful, hairy man and will be celebrating your life today. Love you so so much!”

Williams had previously been misdiagnosed with Parkinson's disease. His autopsy revealed that he instead suffered from a form of progressive dementia called Lewy body dementia, which is particularly hard to diagnose and can cause hallucinations, concentration challenges and memory problems. Like Parkinson’s, it can also create movement problems.


Williams was a master at many things, but physical comedy and quick wit were at the top of the list. He was certainly more than a source of laughter, but I can only imagine what it must feel like to suddenly lose a bit of yourself that makes you you.

Zak, a mental health advocate, reflected on how knowing his father’s true condition led him to even deeper compassion during an episode of the podcast “The Genius Life.”

“There was a focus issue that frustrated him, there were issues associated with how he felt and also from a neurological perspective he didn't feel great. He was very uncomfortable. I couldn't help but feel beyond empathy. I couldn't help but feel frustrated for him. It can be really isolating even when you're with family and loved ones,” he told host Max Lugavere.


It seems Zak has inherited his father’s sense of humor. On July 21, 2022, what would have been Williams' 71st birthday, Zak posted a photo of Williams in full bike gear alongside the words, "Happy 71st Birthday Dad! I'll be remembering you today as you would want to be remembered, in spandex.”

Willliams’ daughter Zelda Williams, 33, shared a quote by Haruki Murakami on Twitter.

“And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in."

This quote was followed by a list of suicide prevention resources, many that the comedian’s daughter had cited in the past.

Zelda added, “'I don't ask for much, but if I may, be gentle to your hearts today. I know I'm trying.”

Robin Williams was a brilliant actor who left behind a legacy of iconic roles, both in comedies like “Mrs. Doubtfire” and in dramas like “Good Will Hunting.” One could chalk it up to god-given talent. He definitely had that in spades. But it was also his incredibly generous spirit that allowed him to easily connect with people, be it through tears or laughter. Though he is sorely missed, his life and works continue to be an inspiration.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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