EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Comedian and actor Robin Williams, who died Monday of apparent suicide, had family ties to Evansville. According to online genealogy records and archives of the Evansville Journal, a late 19th and early 20th century local newspaper, Williams’ father was born here, and his grandparents and great-grandparents all died here. His grandfather, Robert R. Williams, is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville.
Shari Ethridge stumbled across this information when she visited findagrave.com after learning of Williams’ death.
“We’re genealogy/history buffs and that’s a very popular site in the genealogy community,” Katherine Ethridge, Shari’s daughter, told the Evansville Courier & Press (https://bit.ly/1nOlAzT ). Both are employees at Browning Funeral Home’s genealogy department.
When Shari Ethridge clicked on a link that led to the late actor’s father’s page, she saw his father was born in Evansville.
After more research, the two discovered his grandparents were also from the Evansville.
“I think more than anything we were both excited,” said Katherine Ethridge. “I’ve always been a mega fan of Robin Williams, and to know that he has ties to my city was very interesting to me. And of course, we wanted to know more.”
Robin Williams was born in Chicago and spent most of his childhood years in a suburb of Detroit. But his grandparents and great-grandparents lived much of their lives in Evansville with his grandfather, Robert R. Williams, an influential businessman in the Evansville community for many years.
Robert R. Williams was the chief clerk and in 1902 was secretary, treasurer and general manager of the Indiana Tie Co., according to “History of the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County, Indiana.” The book stated that “he has contributed much to the success of the enterprise, capably controlling the interests of the company and managing its trade connections in such a manner that successful results are achieved.”
According to Browning Funeral Home archives, Robert R. Williams also was president of Indiana Towing Co. and EVV Veneer Co., president treasurer and director of Williams Coal Co. and vice president and treasurer of Southern Indiana Farms Co.
According to Ancestry.com, Robin Williams’ father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams was born in Evansville on Sept. 10, 1906. He later moved to Chicago.
Robin Williams’ grandfather, Robert R. Williams, was born in Morganfield, Kentucky, in 1871 and died in Evansville on Sept. 11, 1932, and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery next to great-grandfather Haywood R. Williams, who owned lot 19 where they are buried. Also in lot 19 are great-aunts Ella M. Williams and Elizabeth A. Williams, great-uncle Leslie T. Williams and two relatives who died at birth, Helen E. Williams and Fitz-Gerrell Williams. Ollanna (also referred to as Ellanora) Fitzgerald was from a prominent Illinois family, according to stories in the Evansville Journal.
Robin Williams’ great-grandfather, Haywood R. Williams, was born in Tennessee in 1834 and died in Evansville on May 8, 1920. He is also buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com
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