RIP Robert Nygard, a Familiar Character on Cortland Avenue


We’re sad to report that Robert Nygard has passed away. Neighbor Robert was a familiar face on Cortland Avenue, but he died last weekend after he was struck by a car near Mission and 29th streets, a few days short of his 61st birthday.

Valerie Reichert, manager at the Bernal Heights Library, recalls:

Robert was part of the neighborhood’s old guard, and those of us working on Cortland chatted with him daily. When I came to work, Robert was always sitting with his coffee on the Neighborhood Center bench. He would shout across the street “Hey Lady! “and then give me the weather report.

Robert used the library pretty much every day and was a favorite with the staff. He was a teller of tall tales (which I fell for lock stock and barrel), convincing me last year it was his 80th birthday, when in fact he had added 20 years in order to ice the cake. Mr. Robert Nygard was definitely part of our Bernal landscape.

Neighbor Stacie from Little Bee Baking adds:

Robert was one of the older guys who hung out most every day at the Neighborhood Center or the library, and he came in to my shop regularly for ice cream. He also used to play the blues on his guitar outside the Neighborhood Center while I was getting my shop ready to open. (He was always really proud that he taught himself to play the guitar!) It’s just weird not seeing him after having seen him almost everyday for the past two-plus years.

PHOTO: Robert Nygard at the opening day for Little Bee Baking. Photo courtesy of Stacie Pierce.

14 thoughts on “RIP Robert Nygard, a Familiar Character on Cortland Avenue

  1. I remember seeing him around the hood as well. It’s just asanine that people with licenses are still killing people on the road. It just incenses me. Take driving more seriously. Reasons this native avoids driving. Ugh. Well, Robert, rest peacefully. You’re home now.

  2. A kind soul who was always friendly. RIP Robert. I and many others will miss seeing him around.

  3. just swell. i was almost mowed down by some speeding bitch at that intersection myself a few weeks ago when needless to say i had the right of way.
    then of course when i slapped the side of her car she had time to stop and yell at me.
    as we all know, life isn’t fair and the assholes live long happy lives while people like Robert are cut short.

  4. He would come in the Bernal Library and check-out Dvd’s and return dvd’s. Always emphasizing “I returned all my Dvd’s” and “these ones I am checking out today, I will return them tomorrow”. I am sure he is watching Great Movies on a Beautiful Screen and Just enjoying himself. Goodbye Robert…

  5. It’s very sad that Robert has died. It is also very sad that when discussing his death, dying by getting hit by a car is as matter-of-fact and as common as dying of cancer. There are many super angry and self centered people in cars driving around the city. There are careless UBER/Taxi drivers looking at their phone. I am frightened as a pedestrian. As much as I love to ride my bike, I don’t because I don’t want to die early. Just sit for 5 minutes at the intersection of Bocana and Cortland, you can count how many cars never even stop.

  6. Robert was a good friend of mine and a popular character at Angel Market where I recorded a mini album for him downstairs. He had more guitars than anyone I know. RIP Robert.

  7. Robert was my cousin. When he was a young boy, he was always polite, sweet and kind. Always ready to extend a friendship with you. I am only just 2 years older then Robert (Robbie) and he was a very kind cousin to me. He was just like his mother, Rita, gentle, sweet and kind. Always willing to help, even when help wasn’t needed. In our family, Robbie will be very much missed. A gentle soul that has gone to heaven to play music for the Lord and the rest of his family. I know he will join the Angels Choir Band and play his guitar with a few licks of the blues. God only takes the best and he was one of the best. If I could ask Robbie today while he is in Heaven just one question, ” How can I make it to Heaven and he would be the one to tell me” Rest in Peace My Little Cousin ….

    • Hi Rene,
      Please accept my condolences on the loss of your cousin Robbie. I’m a friend of the Nygard’s and have not hear from Aunt Elsie. We always exchange Christmas greetings, but i have not heard from Elsie. Can you tell me anything, if so, please email me at I believe I met you at Rita’s memorial service in Santa Rosa.

      Thank you-
      Carol P

  8. I just heard the news today and I’m saddened by our loss. I grew up with the Nygard’s in Holly Courts, so my childhood memories are filled with Robbie, Ricky and Pretty.
    Love you always Rob—
    Carol & Family

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