Robin Borski Westlake was a mother, grandmother, wife and secretary at Morse High School. She died of lung cancer on Saturday, June 5.
BATH, Maine — Monday morning in Bath, life is a little different at Robin Borski Westlake’s house. Her daughter, husband and best friend are sitting together on a soft sofa outside. A wind chime sings incessantly and Robin goes missing. She won’t join them in the same way again.
On Saturday, June 5, Robin died of non-smoking lung cancer after battling the disease for nearly two years. She was 57 years old and left behind a community that is still reeling from her loss. Some of the roles people knew of her included mother, grandmother, wife and secretary at Morse High School – and adjectives close to her to describe her personality range from “fantastic” to “funny” to ” fair’ to ‘kind’.
“It’s really hard to believe she’s really gone,” said Dori Hamel. She joked that Robin made her feel like her best friend since they met when Dori was just 13 years old. When she recalled that day, Dori said Robin was afraid of some girls walking along the road past her house – so Dori came in harder and became her “protector.” For years, they shared an enduring bond as their friendship grew, complete with 4 a.m. phone calls that made Dori jokes she won’t miss.
“She can love you, and she can tell you exactly how she felt — and turn around and love you again,” Dori said.
Mother, grandmother, secretary of Morse High School – these are some of the ways people knew Robin Borski Westlake before she died of lung cancer on June 5. How she positively impacted the Bath community on @newscentermaine at 6:30am #wakeMEup
📸: Jillian Pinkham pic.twitter.com/gH52dcSYIQ
— Chloe Teboe (@ChloeTeboe) June 15, 2021
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Nick Westlake, Robin’s husband, says she always put everyone before herself — and made him a better person.
“She just pushed me and let me stretch the envelope, right?” said Nick. “I mean, I would always — I don’t want to say I want to ‘set’ — but settle, and she kind of pushed me.”
Robin’s daughter, Jillian Pinkham, says her mother’s love was like no other – for her and her siblings, her grandchildren, and everyone else.
“My mother was the definition of unconditional love,” Pinkham emphasized. “She loves you on your good days, your bad days, your naughty days.”
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Robin’s life was not without hardships. In 2019, she lost one of her sons to an overdose – something she didn’t try to hide, by talking openly about it with others to raise awareness and donating monetary gifts to rehab after his death; but Jillian says the event has changed her mother in some ways.
“When my brother died, part of my mother died with him,” Jillian shook her head. “A part of her was just lost that never came back.”
Pinkham says her mother was diagnosed with cancer shortly after that loss over the summer, despite eating clean and exercising six days a week to try to prevent it. Jillian says she will never forget the day she found out her mother had a terminal illness. It’s a tough reality to deal with, especially as a mother herself – her girls’ “Mimi” was a big part of their lives.
“My girls just think about the world of her — and they’re so confused and angry,” Jillian said.
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Robin also influenced a number of children outside of her own family. For a few years she was the supervising secretary at Morse High School in Bath. She literally worked as long as she could and at one point told Jillian that the kids were keeping her alive during her battle with cancer.
“She stayed at school until Tuesday and she died on Saturday — and the only reason she didn’t go back was because they hospitalized her,” Robin explained.
Jillian says her mother would pay the children’s library bills so they could graduate. That dedication certainly did not go unnoticed. Donavin Rector graduated at the end of 2019 and now works at BIW. Robin was one of the first people he told about getting hired — and it’s because of her kind and open personality that helped motivate him.
“She was one of the reasons I graduated from high school, I’d say, because nobody really helped me that much,” Donavin recalls. “She was there to let me know that people thought it was important that I graduated high school successfully so that I could move on with my life.”
It’s a skill that director Eric Varney says Robin has taken on.
“She created her role,” Varney said. “She made herself so available to people and made such an impact on the staff and the kids.”
So the school community decided to start a fundraiser to fund two trips for Robin for the last few months of her life – one with a larger group to Florida in April and one with just Jillian a few weeks before she died. During that trip, Jillian and Robin got matching tattoos with a pink promise.
“It’s just a pink promise that she’ll always be with me, and I’m very happy about that,” Jillian smiled, pointing to the blue ink on her arm.
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A celebration of life for Robin will take place at 10am on Sunday 27th June at the Taste of Maine Restaurant in Woolwich, where she has worked for 17 years.
This story has been updated to reflect the celebration of life for Robin Borski Westlake taking place on Sunday, June 27 at the Taste of Maine in Woolwich.