Barbara Prada of Edgartown died unexpectedly Dec. 23 after a short illness. She was 65, and had been the Edgartown animal control officer for 37 years, from 1980 to 2017.

Barbara was born to Richard and Maurita Prada on Feb. 7, 1956, just a few minutes after her fraternal twin Vincent. She and Vincent joined their older sister Christine, and sisters Mary and Ursula were born one year and four years afterward, respectively.

For many years, the Prada house at the corner of Katama and Clevelandtown Roads was a busy place full of children, pets and friends. In those days, children were told to go outside and play on a near-daily basis and that is just what Barbara did with her siblings and neighbors. They built elaborate structures from found materials and designated them as forts or homes. For dinners, they cooked goulash with water, leaves, stones and dirt. They climbed trees, played hide and seek and went exploring in nearby Green Hollow, the sand pit or Collins Beach.

She attended the Edgartown School and graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1974. As she grew up, Barbara’s outstanding connection with animals became apparent to all. The Prada house always had cats and dogs. All the sisters were involved with keeping and riding horses at Sweetened Water Farm through 4-H, and later at Bittersweet Farm. Barbara started with the famed Tumbleweed of Pond View Farm and then moved on briefly to Joey before his owner took him to Scrubby Neck Farm. At Bittersweet, she met the Spectors and rode their horse Cinnamon for years. Ultimately, she got Joey again and kept him at Bittersweet. When Joey’s time finally came, her riding years were over.

After high school, Barbara worked as Sonny Jackson’s assistant at Shady Oak Kennels. She enjoyed her work, helping him with grooming dogs and maintaining kennels.

She applied to be the Edgartown animal control officer when Jesse Morgan decided to retired — and got the job. Over the many years of her career, Edgartown residents came to recognize her incredible skills with people and with organizing, as well as her affinity with animals. She carried out her responsibilities as a law enforcement officer, but was nonjudgmental toward pet owners, even repeat offenders. A born-and-bred Edgartown person, she knew all kinds of people on the Island and accorded everyone with respect.

In 1994 Barbara was named the Animal Control Officer of the Year by the MSPCA. She was selected from more than 400 officers in the state, based on criteria having to do with much more than skill with animals. She was an active member of the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts. In later years, she was involved personally and professionally with a number of efforts to benefit the animal community, including the S.P.A.Y. clinic and planning for animals during natural disasters.

She also contributed to the Edgartown community by becoming a volunteer EMT for a number of years. Besides taking her share of shifts, she became one of the best fundraisers for the organization. People had a hard time saying no to her, and she always followed up with them.

Barbara played a significant role as the aunt of five nephews and one niece. All the children received her hand-knitted sweaters, particularly the Icelandic designs she loved. She and Ursula hosted all six children regularly during summer and holidays throughout their childhoods. One even got married on the Vineyard. More recently, Barbara became the great aunt of two nephews and a niece who live in California. She visited them at their home in 2018 and they all visited the Vineyard at Christmas 2019, just before the Covid pandemic hit.

She is survived by her sisters Ursula Prada of Edgartown and Mary Dombrowski and her husband Thomas of Allentown, Pa.; her aunt, a niece, five nephews and numerous cousins. She was predeceased by her parents, Richard and Maurita Prada, and by her siblings Vincent Prada and Christine Eissenstat. The surviving Prada sisters have received many calls and visits from people expressing their grief and sympathy, and are grateful for them.

Donations can be made to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) Angell, 350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston MA 02130. Online gifts can be made in her memory at

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

For online tributes and more information, visit