Roberta Bradford Hopkins Mendlovitz died peacefully at home in Haddam, Conn., on Jan. 5, surrounded by love and her family.

She was born Aug. 13, 1933, to Melvin and Winifred (Lair) Hopkins in Oak Bluffs, a fourth generation Islander. Her family left the Island when she was in 10th grade and relocated to Braintree, where she graduated as valedictorian of a class of some 600 students. Bobbie, as her lifetime friends and grandchildren called her, received scholarships to Radcliffe College, William & Mary and McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She attended a year at McGill as a premed student and then decided to pursue her lifelong passion for writing.

As an English major at the University of Chicago, Roberta met her future husband, Saul Mendlovitz, the father of her first five children. Saul and Roberta lived for a few years in Newark, N.J., and relocated to Cohasset in 1959. There they became actively involved in campaigning for Adlai Stevenson, Eugene McCarthy and other local Democratic candidates. Saul was a professor of international law at Rutgers University and would return home on weekends to find his wife had organized parties for a wide variety of causes. Roberta was also a director and actress for the local drama club and was involved at her children’s schools.

She was passionate about the arts, writing, reading and politics. She worked for the women’s movement in the 1970s and was an excellent march organizer throughout her life. Her children often found foster teens a regular part of the family. She was a loving aunt and cared for Louis and Anita while her sister Gwendolyn recovered from cancer. In May 1975, Roberta graduated from Curry College with a degree in English literature. In August 1975, she moved to Cheshire, Conn. As a single mom, she worked through to her retirement at the age of 75. Her jobs ranged from working at a Bed and Bath store to working with autistic and disadvantaged children. For more than 25 years she also worked with the elderly as an aide, both privately and at convalescent homes.

She was eager to pass on to her children the privilege of working for others. She had a lot of energy for charitable causes and throughout her life was an advocate for groups who worked for autistic children, the elderly and improved mental health services. In 1978, she moved to Essex, Conn., and lived on a boat with two kids, two cats and a dog for an adventurous year. In 1988, she received a master’s degree in American and English Literature from Wesleyan University. She was overjoyed to raise a second family at the age of 50, and worked tirelessly for the best schooling for David, who was born with Down Syndrome, and throughout the state of Connecticut as an advocate for people who were mentally challenged.

In 2000, she moved back to Martha’s Vineyard and spent the next decade on the Island of her childhood. She worked as an administrator at a law office in Vineyard Haven, attended Our Lady Star of the Sea Church weekly and was involved in parish activities. Her passion for animals became a focus and she spent many hours writing to the newspapers, particularly around the issue of shark hunting. She donated to animal charities and also raised the profile of animal rights on Facebook and other public media sources. She always had cats and dogs, and remembered each one with love.

In January 2013, she moved to Haddam to be near her families in Connecticut and on the East Coast. Roberta left a legacy of passion, energy and many second acts in life. She wanted to be remembered as someone who made mistakes but who cared and felt deeply for her family, friends and those less fortunate.

She is survived by her ex-husband Saul Mendlovitz, Bernard Karp Jessica Dibb, John Mendlovitz, Andrew and Martha Matt, David Karp, Joshua and Audra Karp, and Holly Karp. She is also survived by her grandchildren Joshua Dibb, Samuel Matt, Louis Matt, Francesca Karp, Aubriana Karp, and Kapri Karp. She was predeceased by her son Michael and her daughter Jamie.

A funeral service was held on Jan. 14 at the home of her daughter Jessica. Interment was at Gunpowder Falls Cemetery in Sparks, Md., next to her children.

Donations in her memory can be made to the humane society, Catholic charity, cancer foundations or hospital of choice.

The family would like to extend special thanks to Elizabeth Goodnow, her faithful caregiver and companion of three years, and to Sanya, Simone, Maria, Kelly and Lois, the Care at Home staff of New London, Conn., who dedicated themselves to care in the last two months of Roberta’s life.

Arrangements are under the care of the Robinson, Wright and Weymer funeral home in Centerbrook, Conn. To share a memory of Roberta or send a condolence, please visit