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Good-Bye, Old Friend

A local teacher remembers a surprise visit from Robin Williams.


Photos courtesy of John Blake


Northern California—especially the San Francisco Bay Area—felt a deep loss when actor Robin Williams passed away in August. Many Danville residents remember the excitement around the filming of Mrs. Doubtfire at Bridges, but San Ramon Valley High School teacher John Blake recalls a more personal connection. Roughly 10 years ago, the comedy legend made a surprise visit to Blake’s class for students with special needs.

Williams was quiet at first, says Blake, but opened up when the two posed for a picture. Blake, a former professional wrestler who has been teaching special day classes at the high school for 20 years, flexed, prompting a smile from Williams. “Oh, so we’re manly men doing manly things,” Blake recalls Williams saying.

Williams re-appeared in the classroom another time unannounced. The kids always kept their cool—some didn’t even believe he was a famous actor—but the staff was giddy. At one point, Williams met the school’s principal, a stoic man whose face was red from a recent snow skiing trip.

“Glad to see those sun bulbs are workin’ for ya!” Williams joked. Everyone laughed—even the principal.

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