Bill Bates has died.
We have known for weeks now this was coming, but it’s still a jolt.
To see this man, my dear friend, now gone, his most needed smile and funny story, his grace of movement and always sympathetic, caring, ready to help presence never to be felt again, is so very hard for us who knew and loved him.
Such a great talent as an artist and as a friend rarely comes our way. He will be mourned and missed for a long time by all of us.
He died shortly before six a.m. in Kindred Hospital in San Leandro with his considerably more than devoted wife Lei Lei with him. His daughter Chelsea didn’t know yet when Lei Lei called me, Chelsea being back at the hotel where they were staying, with Lei Lei to break it to her gently when she wakes.
The Carmel Art Association is organizing a fund raiser for June 27 with an auction of art works, including books and originals by Bill, as a benefit for Chelsea. This will be especially meaningful to Bill, for I cannot help but feel he will still hover among us for a while. The money is needed to help put Chelsea through her final year at York School, where she excels as a scholar, athlete, and actress with such a promising future that prestigious colleges and universities are also seeking her.
When Mike Brown, Perspectacles owner in Carmel, who’s been doing an incredible job looking after Bill, Lei Lei and Chelsea’s interest over many months now, visited Bill two weeks ago, he had this to report. “His face was blank until I told him of our plans for the fund raiser for Chelsea, and then he burst out in a big smile.”
Lei Lei, of course, now faces not only the immense pain of loss, but also the press of having to move to a less expensive apartment and other money drains backed up over the long months since Bill had the heart attack in July of last year.
We still need contributions with checks made out to The Friends of Bill Bates sent to P.O.Box 146, Carmel, California 93921.