She says he wanted her to come home

ASPEN, Colo. -- The widow of journalist Hunter S. Thompson said her husband killed himself while the two were talking on the phone.

"I was on the phone with him, he set the receiver down and he did it. I heard the clicking of the gun," Anita Thompson told the Aspen Daily News in Friday's editions.

Those columns. Those books. That sense of humor.

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  • His final Page 2 column

  • His ESPN.com archive

    She said her husband had asked her to come home from a health club so they could work on his weekly ESPN.com column -- but instead of saying goodbye, he set the telephone down and shot himself.

    Thompson said she heard a loud, muffled noise, but didn't know what had happened. "I was waiting for him to get back on the phone," she said.

    Hunter Thompson, famous for "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and other works of New Journalism, shot himself in the head Sunday in the kitchen of his Aspen-area home. He was 67.

    His son, daughter-in-law and 6-year-old grandson were in the house when the shooting occurred.

    "The way he chose to do it was not a surprise, but the timing was a total, total surprise," Juan Thompson said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press.

    Anita Thompson, 32, said her husband had discussed killing himself in recent months and had been issuing verbal and written directives about what he wanted done with his body, his unpublished works and his assets.

    His suicidal talk put a strain on their relationship, she said.

    "He wanted to leave on top of his game. I wish I could have been more supportive of his decision," she said. "It was a
    problem for us."

    Juan Thompson said the "gonzo journalist" was not acting out of pain or desperation but probably decided it was time for him to go.

    "One thing he said many times was that 'I'm a road man for the lords of karma.' It's cryptic, but there's an implication there
    that he may have decided that his work was done and that he didn't
    want to overstay his welcome; it was time to go," the 40-year-old
    son said by telephone from his father's home.

    "He was not unhappy, he was not depressed, none of the things you would associate with someone who took his own life," he said.

    Juan Thompson said his father had been in pain from a hip replacement, a broken leg and back surgery, but "I really don't
    believe it was motivated by pain."

    Thompson was cremated Tuesday in Glenwood Springs. A private memorial service will be held March 5 in Aspen, with a public commemoration planned for spring or summer.

    Thompson's family is looking into firing his ashes from a cannon, as he had wanted.

    "It's a realistic possibility," the son said.