Lake Forest Remembers Former Resident Robin Williams - NBC Chicago

Lake Forest Remembers Former Resident Robin Williams

“We're proud that he was in Lake Forest for a while,” said resident Barbara Nagle



    8/12/2014: Robin Williams spent part of his childhood in suburban Lake Forest. Some of his childhood friends share their stories. NBC 5's Trina Orlando reports. (Published Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014)

    At Gerhard's bakery in downtown Lake Forest, there's one former resident on everyone's mind -- Robin Williams.

    “We were all just talking in the shop that we're kinda sad,” said owner Mary Greub. “Everybody's connected to him.”

    People in town say long before Williams was an Oscar winning actor, comedian, or Mork from Ork, he was just a kid in the neighborhood who used to come to the business when it was a pastry shop in the '50s.

    Greub says she had a second missed connection with him years later when she worked with a friend of Williams.

    “He said ‘Mary, grab a girlfriend and let's go out the four of us,’” Greub said. “’[Williams] is married, but let's just go out and have fun.’ And I didn't find a girlfriend to go out with and never went with him.

    Jess Strong grew up next door to Williams on Washington Road in Lake Forest and described him as "very quiet" and "painfully shy."

    "He was all about playing soldiers. He had it all set up in his house and then we'd go act it out in the ravine because there was a ravine that ran along the lake right there," Strong said.

    The two attended class together at what was then the Gorton School and is now a community center with a strong focus on theater.

    A class photo and other memorabilia remain inside the building to celebrate Williams' accomplishments.

    "I do imagine that when he was a student here he probably tested his teachers a little bit if his adult life is any indication," said Branda Dick, the executive director of the the Gorton Center.

    But more than anything, Williams was remembered as a polite child who always dressed to impress.

    "He was one of those kids that when he went home your parents would say, 'I wish you would be more like Robin,'" Strong said.

    Williams later went to Deer Path Middle School before moving to Detroit.

    “We're proud that he was in Lake Forest for a while,” said resident Barbara Nagle. “He was a beautiful soul, a brilliant mind and he could make us double over with laughter when we were sad,” Nagle said.