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Posted on 06.23.2014 1:24 p.m.

Katharin Roberts of Carpinteria, 1957-2014

Source: McDermott-Crockett Mortuary

Katharin Mack Roberts passed away on June 18, 2014, from a critical illness she battled for seven years, undaunted, with her customary grace, strength, sense of humor, and aplomb.

Katharin Mack Roberts
Katharin Mack Roberts

Katie was born in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sept. 13, 1957. The daughter of the late Ann and Art Mack, Katie spent her childhood in La Cañada Flintridge and later graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Scripps College with a bachelor’s degree in medieval studies.

After finishing her master's degree, Katie was honored as Teaching Assistant of the Year while working on her doctorate at UCSB. She subsequently became a tenure-track professor of history at Williams College and later a teacher at Santa Barbara City College. 

Katie met Matt Roberts, her future husband, while in school in La Cañada, but it was their mutual interest in competitive swimming and diving that drew them together. For the past 35 years, Katie has lived in Carpinteria with her husband, Matt, on his family’s avocado ranch, where they raised their two children, Aaron and Claire Ann.

Strong, funny, compassionate, sassy, bright and upbeat, Katie had a multitude of interests, whether it be the beauty of a David Austin rose, the Brahms’ Concerto in D for Violin, a small but formal Anglophile luncheon on her mother-in-law Claire’s deck to coincide with Prince William playing polo in a nearby field below, or a brand-new copy of a yet-unreleased Louise Penny novel that a friend coaxed from a publisher just before Katie passed away. Katie could take up and pass along a new recipe for minestrone with sweet sausage and tortellini with the same enthusiasm and thoroughness she applied to her telling of Harold Godwinson's oath-swearing to Duke William, the future Conqueror and King of England, in the Bayeux Tapestry. Her recall of people, places and dates remains legendary.

In her pursuit of right, Katie was a tireless volunteer and activist in Carpinteria politics, education, the environment and the community. She was an active board member of the Carpinteria Valley Association and, later, Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs, the nonprofit that formed in 1996 to lead, in partnership with the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, the challenging but successful public acquisition efforts of the Carpinteria Bluffs. Following that success, Katie was the driving force each year on offering every third-grader in the Carpinteria Unified School District the opportunity to visit the Carpinteria Bluffs as part of a Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs Earth Day.

In 2013, she became president of the Citizens group. She was also an active parent volunteer at Aliso School, where she was involved with the Battle of the Books program; at Friends of VADA supporting the Visual Arts & Design Academy of Santa Barbara High School; and at the Santa Barbara Middle School, where she worked in the Deli, wrote and edited the Scoop, coordinated food for Songfest, and worked in the library, once running it for two weeks to enable the librarian to be with her daughter while her granddaughter was born. 

Katie’s primary love and focus was her family. Besides husband Matt, son Aaron and daughter Claire Ann, she leaves behind a brother, Robert “Uncle Bob” Mack, as well as hundreds of friends and colleagues who will deeply miss her funny stories, her sharp wit, her deep intellect, her irrepressible energy and her loyal friendship.

Katie’s family is planning to hold a memorial for her in August, but a date, time and place have not yet been set. Contributions in Katie’s name may be made to Citizens for the Carpinteria Bluffs or Friends of the Carpinteria Library.

Arrangements entrusted to McDermott-Crockett & Associates Mortuary.

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