This Is What The Last 12 Months Of Bob Ross' Life Were Like

Television artist Bob Ross inspired generations of young painters to explore their creativity and use their "happy accidents" to create beautiful images on the canvas. Unfortunately, he was taken from the world all too soon when lymphoma caused his untimely death in 1995. He was only 52 years old, as the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Although he loved to share his happy trees, clouds, hills, etc. with his legions of faithful viewers, he kept his personal life mostly to himself. Still, they had to know that something was up when they were forced to watch reruns over the last 12 months of Ross's life. Only after his death did a spokeswoman for his art supply and how-to company reveal the artist's years-long battle with the deadly cancer.

Despite his legendary status in the annals of pop culture history today, his personal life remains something of a mystery. According to Today I Found Out, Ross wasn't necessarily a hermit, but he did make himself "sort of hard to find." He once said, "I never turn down requests for interviews. I'm just rarely asked." His desire for privacy, combined with the lack of interest on the part of journalists, has led to quite a bit of disinformation about him on the internet. (Even the "About" page of his official website comes up with a 404 error.)

Bob Ross married his third wife just two months before his death

Some biographies claim Ross married twice, and the names of his wives are frequently mixed up, but it appears he married a third time just before he died. His obituary in The New York Times mentions his second wife, Jane, who died in 1993, but says nothing of Lynda. Among the sources that tell of Lynda is the surprisingly detailed biography of Ross on Answers Africa, which states that the couple got married just two months before his death in 1995.

From NPR we learn that as Ross was dying, he spent more time with Annette Kowalski, his business partner — on a bench, outside the hospital, looking at a lake. "Bob was not always full of compliments, but he said to me, 'Annette, you are the wind beneath my wings.' And that is what I'm left with and it means so much to me," she said. "He was really wonderful. I want Bob back."

Because of his secrecy, we may never know the full truth about the last 12 months of Bob Ross's life, but the details aren't really important, are they? What's important is what Ross left behind in the hearts and minds of his fans, teaching us all how to turn life's happy accidents into things of beauty.