Roberta Bradford Hopkins Mendlovitz

0

Roberta Bradford Hopkins Mendlovitz died peacefully at her home in Haddam, Conn., on Jan. 5, 2018. She was surrounded by love and her family. Roberta was born Aug. 13, 1933, to Melvin and Winifred (Lair) Hopkins in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts.
Roberta was a 4th generation “Islander” on Martha’s Vineyard. Her family left the Island when she was in 10th grade and relocated to Braintree, Mass., where she graduated as valedictorian of a class of some 600 students. “Bobbie” (as her lifetime friends and her grandchildren called her), received scholarships to Radcliffe College, William & Mary and McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She attended a year at McGill as a pre-med 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 raised their first two children (Jessica and Michael) for a few years in Newark, N.J., and relocated to Cohasset, Mass., in 1959. It was there that Saul and Roberta became actively involved in campaigning for Adlai Stevenson, Eugene McCarthy, and many other local Democratic candidates. Saul was a professor of international law at Rutgers University and would return home on weekends to find his wife having organized many parties for a wide variety of causes. Roberta was also a director and actress for the local drama club and was also very 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 would often host the meetings and became editor of the local newsletters. Roberta 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 B.A. degree in English Literature and a 4.0 GPA. In August 1975, Roberta then moved to Cheshire, Conn., where she held many positions on the PTA at Cheshire Academy and helped to organize various fundraising events, all of which were successful as well as entertaining.
As a single mom, she also worked from 1975 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 over 25 years she also worked with the elderly as an aide both privately and at convalescent homes. Roberta was eager to pass on to her children the privilege of working for others and to give whatever time or resources one had to those in need. 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, Roberta moved to Essex, Conn., and lived on a boat with two kids, two cats and a dog at Essex Island Marina for a very adventurous year. For the next 22 years, she continued to write and speak up for causes. In 1988, she received a Masters degree in American and English Literature from Wesleyan University. Most importantly, she was overjoyed to have the opportunity to raise a second family at the age of 50. She worked tirelessly for the best schooling for David (who was born with Down Syndrome) and throughout the state of Connecticut for a better awareness of how mentally challenged persons should become a vital part of every community. During this time she joined the Catholic Church and lived and worked for Father Murphy at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Essex.
In 2000, Roberta then moved back to Martha’s Vineyard and spent the next decade on the Island of her childhood. Throughout her 50 years of raising her two families, summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard became a part all her children’s lives, and they came to love the Island as much as she did. At least three of her children lived and worked there. Her grandson, Samuel, was born in the same wing of the hospital where she was born. This decade brought many gifts for Roberta, and she maintained and strengthened family ties and made new friends. 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. Bobbie’s passion for animals also became a focus as she spent many hours writing to the newspapers particularly around the issue of shark hunting on the Island. She donated to animal charities and also raised the profile of animal rights on Facebook and other public media sources. Roberta always had cats and dogs and remembered each one with great love.
In January 2013, Roberta moved to Haddam to be near her families in Connecticut and on the East Coast. Grammy Bobbie will be remembered for her love for her children and grandchildren and her pets. She will also be remembered for her enthusiasm for literature and writing (and she published many articles and short stories), politics, animal rights, and all those who were in need. 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.  Roberta is survived by Saul Mendlovitz (ex-husband), Bernard Karp (Essex), Jessica Dibb (Owings Mills, Md.), John Mendlovitz (Montclair, N.J.), Andrew and Martha Matt (Chester, Conn.),  David Karp (Cromwell, Conn.), Joshua and Audra Karp (Wilmington, N.C.), Holly Karp (Boulder, Colo.). She is also survived by her grandchildren Joshua Dibb, Samuel Matt, Louis Matt, Francesca Karp, Aubriana Karp, and Kapri Karp.  Roberta is predeceased by her son, Michael, and her daughter, Jamie.
All funeral arrangements were made by Robinson, Wright and Weymer (Centerbrook, Conn.) and a big thank you to them for going the extra miles. A funeral service took place on Jan. 14, 2018, at the home of her daughter, Jessica. She is buried at Gunpowder Falls Cemetery in Sparks, Md., next to her children. Donations in her memory can be made to the Humane Society, Catholic Charities, or cancer foundations/hospitals. 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 (New London, Conn.) who dedicated themselves to 24/7 care in the last 2 months of Roberta’s life. To share a memory of Roberta or send a condolence to her family, please visit www.rwwfh.com.