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Susan Schneider and Robin Williams: Minister Remembers Their Wedding Day

    August 17, 2014
    Pam Wright
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The minister who married Robin Williams and his third wife Susan Schneider talked about their beautiful wedding day, recalling Williams’s great love for his new wife.

The Rev. Peader Dalton told the Daily Mail Online that he first met Williams at a funeral.

The Irish minister – who is not affiliated to any particular faith — told MailOnline: “Robin and his lovely wife Susan first came into my life about seven years ago. The parents of a young man who worked for Robin on his properties had both died in a tragic car accident and I was officiating the memorial service.

“He said he was particularly touched with my analogy of death being similar to birth,” recalled Dalton. “I had said that when a baby is born they don’t know what they are being born into – but they are being born into a fuller experience of life and love with their families. Death is the same – in my opinion we are not dying – we’re born into another experience that is greater than ourselves and that is an extension of what it is to love and be loved. He was very taken by this analogy and we talked about it for about 10 minutes – just the two of us.”

Williams was raised in a Christian home, albeit from different denominations — his father was an Episcopalian and his mother was a Christian Scientist. As for Williams, he was never very forthcoming about his own faith, but Dalton believes Williams embraced Christianity.

“You get a real strong sense of God when you go through rehab,” said Dalton.

Williams never forgot the minister and asked him to officiate his 2011 wedding to Schneider at Meadowood resort in Napa Valley, California.

“The wedding day was very beautiful – they were very much in love and very quiet. Both Robin and Susan were very actively involved with the preparation of the ceremony,” said Dalton. “I like couples to be in the driving seat when it comes to the ceremony and I encourage them to write their own vows and decide how they want the ceremony to be. I remember that Robin was very involved – he didn’t just sit there and nod his head. He had a special request to honor his mother and brother, who had passed away, by having a beautiful prayer – the prayer of St Francis read out. They both wanted to make sure their children were involved too – Robin’s three children and Susan’s two young boys, and were very appreciative that I made that happen.”

Dalton — who currently lives with his wife, Margarita, in Sonoma, California — said the intimate wedding was attended by mostly family and close friends.

“Robin and Susan created their own vows,” he recalls. ‘It was a lovely gathering with people mingling and jingling with each other. They also invited my wife and I to stay for the wedding dinner which was very lovely of them. Usually we just leave 20 minutes or so after the ceremony.”

Like the rest of the world, Dalton was shocked by the sudden death of Williams and the subsequent news that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

“I know that for me and rest of the community round here it came as a shock,” he said. “I have no idea how Robin responded to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I know it can mean having a horrible last 15 to 20 years of life and if you have other things going on in your life such as depression it may be harder to process it. It could have been an exacerbating factor in his death but we’ll never know. I personally believe Robin has died as a result of depression.”

Dalton acknowledges Williams‘s suicide leaves the world with many questions.

“The great puzzle with the tragic way in which Robin died is how can a person do that to their wife and children? This was a couple that were absolutely in tune with each other – not in a mushy way – just in a very lovely way,” he said. “But you have to remember that depression hits the inner layer of our hearts. When someone is in that world – it’s difficult to see out. People describe it as feeling imprisoned in a dark room with no switch – and in that situation it’s so difficult to think of others. It’s legitimate for his wife and family and indeed others to ask why he did this.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

  • FACILITATOR

    Lots of misinformation in the foregoing. BUT the worst is suggesting to people with Parkinson’s that the last 15 to 20 years of their lives might be horrible. How bloody irresponsible. These words were written by an egomaniac with his chest all puffed up because HE KNEW ROBIN and takes credit for moments of marriage….BULLOCKS as the Brits like to say…..you don’t have a clue about the deep, dark depths of depression/suicide and you no precious little about Parkinson’s. Dangerous irresponsible comments.

    • Cindy Spowart

      i do agree with you. look at how long michael j. fox has been living and still working (as of late, on “the good wife”) with parkinson’s. i just read within the past week how long it was before fox even announced the the public that he had parkinson’s. if i’m not mistaken, it was 7 years. however, in michael j. fox’s response to williams’ death, because williams had been donating money and time to michael’s foundation, michael did not condemn robin for the tragic choice he made.
      ~
      depression is also one of the first symptoms of parkinson’s. not as it being part of having been a terrible diagnosis from your doctor, as can happen with a lot of diseases that your doctor could tell you you have, but separate from that kind of depression.
      ~
      so, yes, i also agree strongly with what you said about him not understanding depression/suicide either.
      ~
      what we have is a man who had battled depression and substance abuse for all of his life and then add in the diagnosis of parkinson’s. excellent post, thank-you.

      • Tia

        Did Michael J Fox actually say “…because Williams had been donating money and time to my foundation I won’t condemn him for the tragic choice he made” or are you assuming he didn’t condemn him because of those reasons?

    • James

      I enjoyed hearing about the wedding; they sound like a lovely couple. I’m sure the minister did not mean to offend anyone. If he had said cancer can create years of a horrible life, no one would have taken issue.

  • dolores

    We all have cross’s to bear..Look at Michael J Fox and Look at Linda Ronstadt who will never be able to sing another note. They are bearing their cross like everyone else who gets depressed and has Parkinson or any other sickness….. That’s why everyone is wondering why would he do this… He had support and family that loved him and would be there for him…still we ask why? .

    • christine

      It is being suggested that it was an accidental suicide–David Carridine.

  • nancy

    I TRULLY WISH PEOPLE WOULD STOP JUDGING ROBIN WILLIAMS. I GUESS PEOPLE MAKE STUPID COMMENTS WHEN THEY HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED SOMETHING LIKE DEPRESSION. YOU WANT TO JUDGE SOMEONE LOOK TO YOURSELF!!!!!!

  • buangko

    A loving and supportive wife can make a big difference to a husbands life no matter what difficulties he is experiencing.