Dorothy Mello died on Jan. 21 as she had lived, with extraordinary strength, dignity and family by her side. She was 90 but liked to tell you she was 50.

She was born in 1925 in New Bedford, the only child of Julia and John Simas.

In 1947 she married Joe (Chippy) Mello and they lived in a house he built in Padanaram Village in Dartmouth. Dorothy and Joe owned Chippy’s Restaurant in New Bedford. They traveled regularly, spent winters in Marathon, Fla. and summers on their boat in Menemsha. Whenever possible they were on the water fishing. She was an expert kale soup cook and sweet bread baker. She knitted amazing sweaters and always made Christmas magical. She enjoyed bingo, but those closest to her knew her as a ruthless card shark. She was a reliable community member and good friend, but above all she was our strong-willed, unwavering and loving Vavo.

Dorothy lived life with great clarity. Always rising above hardship, she worked hard, made thoughtful choices and did the things she wanted, in the manner she wanted to do them. She was an independent, indomitable woman.

She spent the last three years of her life on Martha’s Vineyard with family.

She is survived by two children, Joe Mello Jr. and his wife Susan Mello of Dartmouth, and Teri Mello and her husband Sean Conley of West Tisbury; four grandchildren, Kaitlyn Mello, Joey Mello, Emma Conley,and Max Conley. She was predeceased by her husband, and by a daughter Judy Mello and a son Peter Mello, who died as young adults.

Her life will be remembered and celebrated by her children and their families.

In her memory, find a room filled with sunlight, enjoy a hot bowl of Portuguese kale soup and take a moment to think of your family and friends with great love. She would like that.