Gary Hausdorfer will never forget Bill Brotherton, a personal fitness trainer who helped him get into shape, beginning in 2001.
Brotherton specialized in weight training and the two men spent quite a bit of time talking during their years of working out together, said Hausdorfer, president and CEO of a company that operates toll roads.
Now Brotherton is gone.
Authorities say by all indications and witness accounts, Brotherton, 54, of Capistrano Beach stepped in front of a Metrolink train Wednesday evening.
The death occurred about halfway between the San Clemente Metrolink station and the San Juan Capistrano Depot, next to the campground at Doheny State Beach at 5:10 p.m., authorities said.
"After talking with numerous witnesses near the scene, investigators have ruled the incident as a suicide," said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Who was Bill?
Hausdorfer said he became one of Brotherton's first clients at Headlands Health and Fitness, located at the corner of Blue Lantern and Del Prado in Dana Point.
“Over the years, we discussed a variety of topics, ranging from health and fitness, diet, politics, sports, business and life in general," Hausdorfer said. "He was very well-informed and was always current on the news of the day. He taught me a lot about physical fitness and diet. He is responsible for helping me create a stronger, healthier body."
Brotherton was "a great teacher, very patient and helpful," he added.
"We always discussed the importance of a healthy body and all aspects of anti- aging and longevity," Hausdorfer said.
Brotherton was married to Kristi Hugstad Brotherton, who was also in the fitness business.
Brotherton, Hausdorfer said, was also an elite bodybuilder.
"Although he told me he was rather small when he was younger, he later became a competitive bodybuilder," he said. "When he retired from competition, he started work as a personal trainer and worked in several fitness clubs before opening Headlands and then, later, Pulse Fitness."
He and Kristi sold Pulse Fitness about two years ago, and it is now called Rado’s Fitness, at 24470 Del Prado in Dana Point.
That's when Hausdorfer started to train with one of the other trainers at Rado’s. Then, about two months ago, he got a text from Bill saying he had moved back to Dana Point and asked if he would like to start training with him again, he said.
"Although I would have liked to resume training with him, I felt that would be unfair to my current trainer and declined," Hausdorfer said. "We shared a couple of texts after that, but I had not spoken to him recently. So, I do not personally know how he was doing emotionally prior to Wednesday. I was told he was training in another gym in Dana Point."
Hausdorfer says Brotherton was also someone who was funny, and who loved to share jokes.
"He never seemed in a bad mood," he said. "Although our training sessions were challenging for me, I always looked forward to our workouts. He was a big guy in great shape but very kind and gentle."
The men started out as client-trainer and then became friends in the training environment.
"You cannot spend two-three hours a week with someone over a period of 10 to 11 years without becoming friendly," he said.
He said he liked and respected Brotherton, who always challenged him to improve.
"He never let me be lazy. He was very disciplined in helping his clients and continuing his own personal training," Hausdorfer said.
What is the one thing he will remember most?
"I will always remember him calling my last name when I walked into the gym. He loved to mispronounce it," he said. "And I will always remember his laugh. Of course, his size and strength were obvious to anyone who saw him."
Hausdorfer said he was not aware of any funeral or memorial arrangements at the time of this post.
Suicidal thoughts and feelings should always be taken seriously, experts say. If you believe you're at risk for ending your life, call 911 or visit the nearest hospital emergency room for an evaluation. You can also click one of the links below or call one of the toll-fre,e 24-hour hotlines listed.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
American Association of Suicidology
Mental Health America
Emergency Psychiatric Evaluation in Orange County: 866-830-6011 or714-834-6900
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Youth Crisis Hotline: 800-448-4663