Gaurav Gopalan, whose death rocked the DC theater community earlier this week, probably died of natural causes, his longtime partner told DCTS.
Bob Shaeffer, who lived with Gopalan and their two cats and two dogs in Columbia Heights, has reviewed an autopsy report which concluded that Gopalan suffered massive hemorrhaging in the brain, probably caused by an embolism. The autopsy contradicts earlier reports, published elsewhere, that indicated that Gopalan might have been the victim of a hate crime. Gopalan was wearing women’s clothes when he was found unconscious on a street in Columbia Heights.
Shaeffer, however, notes that police have kept the file open and are still investigating. “Gaurav’s family calls from Nepal every day, hoping for any final word,” he says. “I have to explain that things move slowly here.”
The two met at a theatre, during intermission, five years ago. “We were having a smoke break. It was love at first sight.” The first time he came to my house for dinner, I served fifteen kinds of cheese,” Shaeffer recalled. “As he tried each one, he said ‘I love this one – it’s my favorite.’ He had the heart of a little boy.” They moved in together a few months later.
“I am heartbroken,” he said. “We shared a deep, undying love.”
Gopalan, an aeronautical engineer, was celebrated in the DC theater community for his perceptive intellect, boundless enthusiasm and generous heart. His unexpected death at thirty-five provoked a powerful wave of grief and love from colleagues and admirers.
Shaeffer said that Christopher Henley, Artistic Director of WSC Avant Bard will be arranging a memorial service for the theatre community “in a month or so.” A separate one for family will be held later.
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