Robin Becker bids adieu to her pharmacist duties

After 33 years of filling prescriptions and assisting customers with satisfying their healthcare needs, Robin Becker has retired from Ray’s Pharmacy in Eastsound.

“When you can really help someone solve a problem with their medications, they are so grateful,” Becker said. “That is the part that I will really miss.”

Her last day was May 28.

“We are so grateful to Robin for serving the Orcas community for 30 years, and we will miss her smile and attention to detail,” said Ray’s Pharmacy owner Marlace Hughes.

Becker earned her doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Washington in 1989. She began her career in a hospital pharmacy in Des Moines, Idaho and then Tacoma, Washington where she met a technician whose father was a pharmacist on Orcas Island. Elaine and Ray Jagels had opened Ray’s Pharmacy in 1971, and their daughter explained that her parents were currently in need of a pharmacist.

Robin and her husband Jack had been vacationing on their boat in the San Juans for years and quickly pursued the opportunity. Robin secured an apartment on Orcas and Jack continued to work at Boeing, where he was an engineer. The two saw each other on weekends.

“It was a big step because I hadn’t worked in a community pharmacy before,” Robin said. “I found it was really fun because you got interaction with people who need your particular area of expertise. In the hospital, you are more like the gatekeeper.”

Two years later, in 1994, the Beckers decided to buy Ray’s Pharmacy.

“I’d be the pharmacist with Ray and Jack would manage the business. Bless their heart, they financed our sale. They were lovely people,” remembers Robin. “When Jack told his coworkers at Boeing, people were telling him it would be the end of his marriage. The funny thing was, we almost never saw each other at work. We’d get home at the end of the day and say ‘how was your day, dear?’ We had no idea!”

Fifteen years ago, Hughes met her future husband Rick at Ray’s Pharmacy. The couple later moved to San Francisco, and before Marlace left Orcas, she told the Beckers: if you ever want to sell, give me a call. Several years later the two came back to the island for a brief respite before considering a move to Seattle. During that time, the Beckers took Marlace up on her offer and asked if she wanted to purchase the business. She said yes. And just like Ray before her, Robin stayed on as a part-time pharmacist for the new owners. She has worked Fridays and Saturdays ever since.

“I am getting older and it’s harder to spend 8-9 hours on my feet,” Robin said. “It’s stressful especially in the summer with all of the tourists. An amazing number of people forget their medications. Once summer hits, it’s non-stop on top of all the regular island patients.”

Robin is an avid gardener, who enjoys tending her vegetable garden and has been growing orchids for 22 years. She currently cares for more than 100 of the plants.

“I have way too many,” Robin laughed. “I am slowly trying to give some of them away.”

With her weekends free, she can travel more with Jack. One of their favorite spots is British Columbia, where they go to Vancouver and Victoria several times a year. The couple also has a small plane and they belong to a Beechcraft Aircraft club that meets annually all over the country. This fall, it will be in Palm Springs. Robin also knits and spins fiber.

“I am also hoping to get into volunteer work,” she said. “Instead of having children, we adopted cats! I would like to volunteer at the animal shelter or become a master gardener.”