Sandol Milliken Stoddard, the children’s author who also penned the first major work in the United States highlighting the benefits of hospice care, died on Jan. 4 at her home in Holualoa, Hawaii. She was 90 and the proud mother of five sons, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

She formerly had a long association with the Vineyard, where she summered at Lambert’s Cove for many years and wrote pieces for the Vineyard Gazette.

She authored 26 books, including the best-selling children’s classic I Like You, continuously in print since its original publication in 1965. Excerpts from the text are often read at weddings, reflecting the many kinds of love that unite us. Her landmark 1978 work The Hospice Movement: A Better Way of Caring for the Dying was instrumental in introducing the concept of compassionate, patient-centered care for the terminally ill to the United States. She helped educate medical professionals about hospice practices and spoke at conferences of practitioners who honored her for her pioneering work. A lifelong poet and interpreter of both Old and New Testament texts, she also authored The Doubleday Illustrated Children’s Bible (1983) and its companion A Child’s First Bible (1990).

Sandol Stoddard was born in Birmingham, Ala. on Dec. 16, 1927, to Caroline Harris Stoddard and Carlos French Stoddard, Jr. She received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Bryn Mawr College and completed coursework toward a master of arts degree in English literature from San Francisco State University.

A devoted mother, her career as an author began in a Marin County, Calif., household where she regularly shared her love of wordplay with her young sons, trying out lines from her early manuscripts on her boys and enriching her works with ideas and perspectives that grew out of her own experiences as both a child and a mother. Her professional career took off with the 1960 publication by Atlantic Monthly of The Thinking Book, a poetic exploration of the interior landscape of an idealistic child.

Her eclectic body of work included children’s books, stories with religious themes, and research on the history of 19th-century Christian missionaries in Hawaii. The latter became the impetus for her final work, the sweeping historical novel of early Hawaii, Dream of Eden (2016). Her passion for the history and people of Hawaii brought a steady stream of visitors from around the world to her home on the Kona Coast, including fellow writers, artists, activists and members of her far-flung extended family.

In a 2016 interview about the craft of writing, she explained the inner voice that drove her to write: “I have a very distinct memory of my joy and excitement at the age of four when I discovered that I could save the words that were circulating in my brain. That is what writing was about: you could capture these insights . . . I saw then that if you could do this strange thing called writing, you could make this memory of beauty endure, that these words and feelings and poetry could last forever.”

She regularly read her books aloud to audiences from family to school libraries. Asked to describe the unifying theme of her diverse portfolio of writing, she answered, simply, “love.”

Sandol was named for her paternal grandmother, Sandol Milliken Stoddard, a noted stage actress. She grew up in New Haven, Conn., later moving with her husband Felix Max Warburg to California to raise their family in Marin County just north of San Francisco. A longtime community activist, Stoddard was involved in efforts to preserve wilderness areas and future national parklands along the Northern California coast, and to include hospice in traditional health insurance plan coverage. She was active in Marin County education issues and an outspoken supporter of equal rights for women, minorities and the LGBT community.

She is survived by her devoted longtime companion Michael J. Walsh of Waikaloa, Hawaii, her sons Andy and his wife Judy, Pete and his wife Melinda, Gerry and his wife Joy and Jason and his wife Karen; 10 grandchildren from Australia to Germany; 10 great-grandchildren; her Stoddard cousin Dorothy Sturges and her niece Linda Delgado. She was predeceased in 2000 by her husband Peter Randall Goethals and in 1960 by her son Joshua Lyons Warburg.

A celebration of life will be held later this winter at her home in Holualoa, Hawaii.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in her name to the Hospice of Kona or to the Sandol Milliken Stoddard Scholarship Fund for young writers at Hampshire College in Amherst.