Who is Susan Schneider?
Susan Schneider Williams is an American artist and graphic designer. She is the third wife and widow of actor and comedian Robin Williams. A native of California, Schneider has always been a gifted artist. She first attended the University of California, pursuing a degree in graphic design but later transferred to the California College of Arts, from where she got her Bachelor of Arts degree. After graduating, Schneider worked as a freelance graphic designer in and around her home county before setting up her own design firm, Critical Eye Design, in 1997. During this period, she also started experimenting with other forms of art but did not have her first exhibition until 2006. She met Williams sometime in 2008 and married him three years later, in 2011. After Williams’ death in 2014, Schneider was involved in a bitter legal battle over his estate with his three children. The dispute was eventually settled out of court in 2015.
Schneider was born on January 24, 1964 in Marin County, California. Little is known about her family and childhood. She studied at a local high school and then enrolled at the University of California where she pursued a degree in graphic designing. However, she later transferred to the California College of Arts and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from there.
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Following her graduation, Susan Schneider joined the workforce as a freelance graphic artist. She would work for several graphic designing firms over the course of the next eight years. In 1997, she founded Critical Eye Design, her own graphic designing firm, which predominantly does logo and brand development work.
While she ran her business, she also simultaneously began her attempts to create other forms of art. In 2006, she held her first exhibition. It received positive reviews and encouraged her to focus more on her art than on graphic designing. By 2010, she had established herself enough as an artist that she could afford to phase out her career as a designer.
As of 2018, her art has been displayed in seven solo exhibitions and seven group exhibitions. Furthermore, she has curated 11 and judged five shows. In 2012, she held private art lessons. A year later, she was invited to be a guest lecturer at Pricing Your Artwork workshop at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, California. She returned to Kentfield in 2016 and 2017 to serve as the guest lecturer at the Art Show Preparation workshop. Having been deeply influenced by the scenic beauty of her hometown, she primarily paints landscapes.
Marriage, Widowhood, & Legal Battle
Prior to her relationship with Williams, Schneider had been married to businessman Richard Armusewicz. They married in the 1980s and have two children together. However, they divorced in 2001.
Schneider and Williams met in late 2008, prior to his heart surgery in March 2009. She later helped him recover at his home in California. They dated for the next two years, eventually marrying in a lavish ceremony on October 22, 2011, in St Helena, California.
They were married for three years. On August 11, 2014, Williams committed suicide by what his autopsy later ruled as "asphyxia". It also revealed that he had been suffering from "a recent increase in paranoia”. An examination conducted on his brain tissues exposed the possibility of "diffuse Lewy body dementia." According to Schneider, the disease was like “a terrorist” inside her late husband’s brain. As per his wishes, his body was cremated and his ashes were subsequently dispersed in San Francisco Bay.
In December 2014, following the death of her husband, Schneider embarked on a legal battle against Williams’ three children, Zachary, Zelda, and Cody, claiming that she was not getting enough money to maintain the house where she and Williams used to reside. As the case progressed, it encompassed other items once owned by Williams, including his bicycles, watches, and awards.
Williams’ children stated that their stepmother was “adding insult to a terrible injury” by attempting to alter the trust while Schneider maintained that she simply wanted to honor her late husband’s wishes. Eventually, the case was settled out of court with Schneider receiving “a few emotional items she requested, such as their wedding gifts, selected clothing items, a watch Williams often wore, plus the bike they bought together on their honeymoon.”
Zachary, Zelda, and Cody still ended up with most of the items they had originally demanded, including their father’s massive watch and bike collections and his awards, including the Oscar he received for ‘Good Will Hunting’. His widow also received a small fraction of his $100 million estate. However, she sounded content in the statement she released afterwards, saying, “I feel like Robin’s voice has been heard and I can finally grieve in the home we shared together.”
Schneider received special thanks from the makers of the 2009 documentary ‘Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction’.