Wilma Ray Robinson Westbrook "Miss Wilma"
January 5, 1931 – October 14, 2014
I love you and miss you already. It has been less than 4 hours since your passing and I am in disbelief that you are gone. My gratitude for the Mother void you filled in my heart is beyond expression, although I tried to show you how very special you were to me on this side of heaven.
Born, the youngest of 7, outside of Bastrop during the “Great Depression” made childhood difficult. Her elder siblings had begun families of their own before she was 10.
She dropped out of school somewhere between 6th and 8th grade to help her family run the local Bastrop bus station which was a busy place with the bustling of Camp Swift during World War II. Her father unfortunately died in a tragic car accident.
She escaped through an ill-conceived 1 week marriage which culminated with an appendicitis attack. Her Mamma rode a bus to New Mexico to rescue her from both. She eventually got a job as a bookkeeper at the state Capital in Austin. In the beginning, she would ride to work with 2 other girls from Bastrop. It was in Austin that she found her home. In relationship to her life in Bastrop, it was the “big city” for sure, and she loved it. She met many friends and soon moved to Austin and went about learning about city life. At the time she was a pioneer. Women didn’t usually move away from home unless they were married, but she had already tried that route.
She had a small apartment just east of I-35 between S. Congress and Riverside, her best friend was Myrtle. “Mert” as she called her and she “ran around together”. They were quite cosmopolitan for the time; an old school version of Sex in the City. Fashion, fun and adventure were their life and it was an exciting adventurous time. She met and fell in love with, as she referred to “her boyfriend” and love of her life in 1961, she was 30. For 10 years they traveled the world, cruises, Hawaii, and Europe. Tragically, he died in her arms of a heart attack after returning from a local hunting trip. Mert too, passed away from a failed surgery in her early 30’s. She was heartbroken.
Soon after, she met and married James Westbrook on July 1st 1972 at a Justice of the Peace ceremony in Bastrop. She was 41 and she officially “retired”. They moved into what had been Jim’s Mother’s house on 47th street in Austin where she would live the rest of her life. They were members of the local Elk’s Lodge and it was the center of their social life. They danced, swam, and partied at the “the lodge”. She joined “the spa” as she called it, which was a local fitness facility. She exercised 6 days a week, and it was there that she met friends that she still has today.
Now married and safely within the conforms of social acceptance of the time, she was closest with her siblings. Her sister’s Lerah and Sylvia were her best friends.
Sadly, once again, life was unkind. Cancer took the life of sister Lerah in 1982 and her husband Jim October 3, 1988. Her sister Sylvia would follow them later in 2006.
In December of 1994 she rented the tiny house she owned next to hers to a kindred spirit whom she would come to call her daughter. Unfortunately, she had a stroke before the tenant had moved in. Her family stepped in to help. She returned to Bastrop where her Brother, Sister, Nieces, and Nephew all helped her recover and within 3 months she was back home in Austin. It was March of 1995.
The then, “neighbor girl” and the now “Miss Wilma” shared birthdays, holidays, shopping, Sunday dinners, and life. They grew to be like Mother and daughter complete with the occasional arguments over silly things like giving too many Christmas cookies away and the “daughter’s” weight and posture. In 2008, a necessary heart valve replacement surgery for Wilma went wrong and they were engulfed in medical crisis. In a blink of an eye Miss Wilma went from being totally independent to unable to walk and to barely use her hands.
As a result of the level of help she needed, caregivers were hired. They too, became like family. Miss Wilma was easy to love. The neighborhood, which had been long term acquaintances, became more. Miss Wilma enjoyed trips to one neighbor’s hot tub, collected cross words from the paper for another, and their kids became her surrogate grandchildren. They brought in her trash cans and help fix things around her house. The children helped with tasks like sweeping her wheelchair ramp of leaves, making signs for her to remember things like locking the wheelchair and the names of the Caregivers who were to be with her at night. They made her cards and drew pictures on the sidewalk for her and crafted trinkets for her which she treated as gold. They helped hang Christmas lights and played board games with her. From her wheelchair at the front door, Miss Wilma would judge their gymnastic contests. Not without the occasional claim of injustice of her scoring.
Along the way, medical emergencies both big and small were a constant reminder of how precious life is. EMS was referred to as Miss Wilma’s cab. The occasions of life which had been simple markers became celebrations of life itself and Miss Wilma’s presence in it. Birthdays, Mothers Days, and Christmas’s were as if they could be the last. Halloween was a big production. Miss Wilma, who had never participated before, was now “all in”. She would choose her costumes in the month before. One year; a witch, the next Cleopatra, the last and fittingly; an Angel.
Wilma Ray Robinson Westbrook was born January 5th 1931 in High Grove, Texas and went home on October 14, 2014.
She is preceded by her husband James Westbrook, her parents Hosea and Florence, her older siblings Elmo, Hulon, Nolan “Dink”, Lerah, H.L “Corky”, Silvia and their families.
Miss Wilma is survived by many loved ones including relatives, friends, those who lovingly cared for her, and neighbors including the one she considered her own daughter. All of whom are grateful for the honor of the time she gave us in life.
Thank you Miss Wilma! You were one of a kind that we are all grateful to have had in our lives. You will be loved, honored and missed until we see you again.
Say hi to Elvis!
A celebration of life for Miss Wilma will be held on Saturday October 25, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church at 901 Trinity St in Austin with a wake to follow.
To share condolences with the family please visit www.cookwaldenfuneralhome.com.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Wilma Ray Robinson Westbrook "Miss Wilma"
April 8, 2015
We are so sorry to hear about your loss. May the God and Father of true peace and all tender mercy grant the entire family a calm and firm heart giving you everlasting comfort and hope. With deepest sympathy for your loss! -
December 27, 2014
Offering my deepest condolences. May prayer comfort & strengthen you.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray constantly."
October 22, 2014
DEEPEST sympathy on your loss of Miss Wilma. Would love to know who wrote the obituary. It is beautiful and memorable.Clearly Miss Wilma was a very special person. V. McMillion
October 21, 2014
Miss Wilma, with your loving generous heart you brought to my dear friend Karen, the mother/daughter relationship that you both longed for. Thank you for the joy you brought into the many lives you touched!
October 20, 2014
Miss Wilma, I will miss your Christmas
parties, love you and rest in peace, I will watch out for Karen.
October 20, 2014
I will forever remember all the fun we use to have. The adventures that we took and the fun shopping trips. We had a lot of laughs and some great quality time.
It was our pleasure to care for you when you had that first stroke. We visited you daily at the hospital and made sure you had a place to go when you left the hospital. Mom and Dad enjoyed being able to be there for you and help with your care. Dorwin enjoyed the time he spent with you when he would drive you to Austin each day for therapy. In the afternoons Denise and I would pick you up on our way home from work enjoying our time together and visiting on the way to Bastrop.
It was because of you being so special that Dorwin took the time out of his busy work schedule to get the rent house ready for your new daughter.
Together we all had so much fun!
To a beautiful lady with so much grace and sophistication, you will be truly missed.
We love you! May God Bless
Patti & Dan Steakley
October 19, 2014
Miss Wilma, what a wonderful life and friendship God shared with all of us!
Vividly remembering your cute smile to your sometimes sassy demeanor, I will always cherish the days we spent together. Weather it was PT or TV, internet news or neighborhood watching, resting or talking…oh the choices!
You were such a joy to be around. Loving of all, caring of all, finding joy in all. From the youngest to the oldest, you would always have a smile, infectious laugh and kind words.
You will truly be missed by all of those that cared for you figuratively and literally (I know you got that one!)
For me, your hugs and kisses will be missed beyond belief. You are now at peace, pain-free and with all those that have gone before you. As Karen said “Say Hi to Elvis”. Let me add, “Say Hi to both of them!”