Robin Williams has been working at Cafe 191 almost since she moved to Montana. PHOTO COURTESY ROBIN WILLIAMS

The adventures of Robin Williams

From Hawaii to almost every corner of the nation – life is meant for living

The friendly and feisty manager of Cafe 191 is Robin Wiliams. Yes, Robin Williams. She was named in 1976, a full two years before Robin Williams the comedian/actor became famous. Her colorful life has led her all over the nation and to encounters with nearly every kind of person.

One of those people was actor Geoffrey Lewis, who happened to have the famous Robin Williams on speed dial. He put the two in touch.

“I was so excited to speak to him,” she said. “I told him I’m probably your biggest fan. I’ve kept my maiden name all this time.”

Her adventurous life began in Hawaii where she was a selfproclaimed Marine Corps brat. Williams’ father once joked that he had taught her all the self defense moves of the Marines except for how to kill a man with her thumb, but he is pretty sure she figured that one out on her own.

Though a fiercely protective mama bear, she said she has never had to go that far.

Her family moved back to the mainland when her dad retired from the military. He went into mining, which meant many moves with the industry. She attended two to three schools per year. Though she learned the valuable skill of adapting, the constant shifts in her education allowed for her to slip through the cracks. In the 8th grade, she tested at a 2nd grade reading level. So, she studied the smut novels and the dictionary that her mother gave her.

“That’s how I learned how to read and spell. And I’m still hooked on smut novels or ‘romance novels,’” she said.

She resolved with her two children that they would be well educated and would not struggle to learn as she did.

“My kids are good. I’ve kept them out of jail. I think I’ve taught them well. I was a tough mom but I don’t apologize for that,” she said.

Her life experience is vast and she feels the adventures she had have shaped her, made her more well rounded, more approachable, more understanding and sometimes a little more fierce. She is witty, said she can sometimes be mean, and is always protective of the people she loves. She lives and breathes the philosophy that life is meant for living.

“I learn from my lessons. I grow and change with that. I have my goals. I don’t want anybody or anything interrupting my goals. If there’s an obstacle, I will go around it, over it, under it or through it,” she said.

Her parents eventually settled in a small town in Washington, where she graduated from high school. After that, she hit the road.

“My mom hated it. She said, ‘You’re just like your dad, you’ll go with $20 in your pocket, a tank full of gas and you’ll just take off.’ And I would, too,” she said. She would drive until she ran out of gas, find a tiny town, live in her car until she found a job, get an apartment and furnish it with thrift store finds.

“Then, when I was ready to go I would leave everything behind, pack my car and go again,” she said.

She has managed hotels, bars and restaurants, been a business analyst and at times a workaholic. Sometimes life experience led her down a professional path, like when she became a domestic violence advocate after escaping an abusive relationship.

She earned her bachelor's degree in business while pregnant with daughter and also studied psychology, study that has led to success with managing people.

She said she took over a D-rated hotel and made it an A-rated hotel within two years “with a decent crew – yes, they all had felonies. They needed another chance, I gave them that chance.”

They were fantastic employees, she said – honest, hardworking, they loved their jobs and were happy because they were respected.

In the end, life and happiness boil down to simple principles like fairness, love, and respect for oneself and others, she explained.

“Travel. Always have fun. Don’t hold grudges. Don’t be angry,” she said of her life philosophy. “Just enjoy life.”

Love led her to the Big Sky area. Now a resident for almost a year, she and her fiance Sim have purchased a place with the goal of eventually retiring in the community.

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