Steel sculptor Robert Ellison dies at 65

The day before the death of prolific and playful steel sculptor Robert Ellison, the incapacitated but unbroken artist greeted guests to the fifth annual "I'm Still Alive" party at his mountain-top home and studio above Penngrove.

"He was was so excited and so looking forward to it," said niece and assistant Brett Buikema.

"He was still very expressive," Buikema said of the 65-year-old Ellison, who began to notice the effects of debilitating ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, in 2005.

"He had a wonderful smile," she said. "His eyes told a story of their own. What a wonderful way to go out."

Buikema and Ellison's mother, Mary Ellison of Michigan, were with him at his home on Sonoma Mountain when he died on Sept. 9.

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