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Tragedy leads to outpouring of support

Friends and neighbors rally as man's wife dies just weeks after delivering second son.

January 31, 2014|By Tim Traeger, tim.traeger@latimes.com

A Burbank man whose wife died shortly after she gave birth to their second son said he has been overwhelmed by the local community’s support and compassion in the wake of the tragedy.

Five days after having Colin James “C.J.” Burgess at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center on Dec. 30, Robin Burgess, 42, complained of a headache. Her husband, Chris, a 43-year-old graphic artist with Warner Bros., gave her ibuprofen and went to get lunch for the family. Upon his return to their West Chandler Boulevard home, he found his wife having a seizure and unable to speak.

PHOTOS: Chris Burgess with newborn C.J. Burgess

An ambulance rushed Robin Burgess back to the hospital, where a CAT scan revealed an 8.5-by-5-centimeter blood clot in her brain. Doctors performed surgery within the hour but Robin succumbed to the aneurysm, dying about two weeks later on Jan. 19.

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FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this story stated that Donald and Angelica Bender are neighbors of the Burgess family. They are former neighbors. 

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From the elation of birth to the loss of his wife of 11 years, suddenly Burgess was a single dad.

But he did not remain alone. Roosevelt Elementary School Principal Jennifer “Dr. Meg” Meglemre, where C.J.’s older brother Ethan, 10, attends, created an account on GiveForward.com to cover medical expenses and other needs. Though Burgess asked for $5,000, more than twice that amount, $11,365 has been raised, and more may continue to roll in.

Following email blasts by Meglemre and a local television broadcast, Burgess found himself awash in diapers, formula, blankets and toys. Co-workers from Warner Bros. showered the family with books, crayons and yet more toys.

“Roosevelt’s generosity is an understatement. We have tons of baby clothes and formula and toys and gift cards at a neighbor’s house. Co-workers brought coloring books and food,” Burgess said. “I knew I had friends, but I didn’t know I had friends with a capital ‘F.’”

Former neighbors Donald and Angelica Bender have helped watch over C.J. and Ethan since Robin was taken to the hospital. All those donations are being temporarily stored at their home.

“He’ll have wipies until he’s 18,” Angelica Bender said of C.J., who weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces at birth.

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