Dorothy A. Larkosh Roberts, 71, died on Feb. 13, at her home in Oak Bluffs. Dorothy was born to Armando and Josephine Lenotti on June 16, 1936 in Bridgeport, Conn. She was raised in nearby Fairfield in a large family of first and second-generation Italian and Irish immigrants.
After high school, Dorothy enrolled at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, paying her tuition and supporting herself by working full time at the A&P. She was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Special Education in 1960. During college she met her first husband, Edward W. Larkosh. In 1964, Dorothy came to Martha's Vineyard as a fully credentialed young teacher with her husband and their two baby boys, Daniel and Christopher.
Dorothy began teaching third grade at the Edgartown School in 1965, as there was no formal special education program on the Island at that time. In 1968 Dorothy took the job as the special education teacher at the Oak Bluffs School, thus becoming the very first full-time special education teacher on Martha's Vineyard. In 1970, after a year teaching a transitional first grade class at Colegio Nueva Granada in Bogota, Colombia, she accepted the position as teacher of special education at the Tisbury School where she taught for most of her career.
In the beginning, Dorothy worked with severely mentally and physically handicapped children from all over the Island without the help of a single aide. Before her arrival, the more severely mentally handicapped were left largely without structure or efforts made to teach them. These were the children then considered to be "unteachable" by a majority of the profession.
Dorothy brought modern teaching methods into the classroom even for those most severely challenged. She devoted her life to teaching children - from the mildly learning disabled to the most severely mentally and physically handicapped. Even those previously thought to be "unteachable" were successfully taught and they all learned some simple things such as how to write their own name. With the support of her colleagues and the community, Dorothy Roberts developed a modern special education program on Martha's Vineyard.
As a living example of the learning she inspired, Ms. Roberts also continued to further her own education and experience. In 1978, she earned a Master of Science degree in education at Lesley College in Cambridge. From 1978 to 1984, Mrs. Roberts took a leave of absence from the Tisbury School, during which she served as the director of programs for the Washoe Association for Retarded Citizens in Reno, Nev., (which provided employment for mentally handicapped adults) and as a reading specialist and instructor at the Learning Lab at the University of Nevada in Reno (specializing in the study and application of advanced learning methods). From 1983 to 1984 she served as the Special Education Coordinator for the Caledonia Central Supervisory Union in Danville, Vt. In the fall of 1984, she resumed her post at the Tisbury School where she remained the special education teacher and reading specialist until her retirement in 1999. Dorothy also enjoyed working as a real estate agent with Tea Lane Associates for more than 20 years.
The highlights of Dorothy's final years were traveling with family and friends and taking care of her little dog, Soonie; she especially enjoyed spending time with her grandson Oliver. One of her most rewarding accomplishments was obtaining Italian citizenship for herself, her sons, and grandson in 2005.
Dorothy is survived by her two sons, Daniel J. Larkosh and his wife Judit of West Tisbury, and Christopher E. Larkosh of Providence, R.I. and Oak Bluffs; her sisters, Eleanor lassogna of Milford, Conn., Shirley Giampaolo of Monroe, Conn., Margaret Lenotti of Trumbull, Conn., Jean Albanese of Milford, Conn, and Mary Fiscella of Fairfield, Conn.; and one grandson, Oliver W. Larkosh of West Tisbury. She was predeceased by her brother, Richard Lenotti of Milford, Conn.
A funeral service in her memory was held on Feb. 18 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Oak Bluffs, followed by her burial at Oak Grove Cemetery in Oak Bluffs. Dorothy loved education, children, animals, nature, art, music and culture; donations in her name can be made to any charity that honors her spirit of love and generosity.
Arrangements were under the care of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, located on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs. Visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book, video tribute and information.