November 28, 2017
Mary Kate McCarter Roberts of Columbus, Mississippi, died peacefully at her home on November 24, 2017, surrounded by the people and pets she loved. She was born in Columbus on December 28, 1946, to Marietta Ward McCarter and Robert Bruce (Bill) McCarter. She enjoyed a typical 1950s childhood with family and friends and made her way around town first on roller skates and bicycles and then in cars she was too young to be driving. She graduated from S.D. Lee High School in 1964. Before leaving to study in France, her parents told her not to have her ears pierced while she was there. It was one of the first things she did after arriving in Paris. She studied French and Spanish at the University of Alabama where she was a member of Delta Gamma Fraternity, Beta Psi Chapter, and graduated in 1968. She received a master’s degree in French from the University of Mississippi in 1969. An active, black armband-wearing Vietnam War protester, she went on a Christmas Eve date in 1968 with an Army helicopter pilot who was home on leave. In 1969, she married William Edwards Roberts, III, proving that having an open mind enriches life. She began her teaching career in Enterprise, Alabama, taught French at Mississippi State University, taught French and Spanish in Columbus, and later taught gifted students in Starkville. Her work connecting students in Mississippi and Russia was featured in National Geographic in 1989. In recognition of her contributions to multiple global educational projects, she received the 2002 National Techno-Leader Award from Columbia University. She was chosen by Cornell University to field test an ornithology curriculum, and her students’ work sharing and interpreting bird count data with students in the United Kingdom was featured by the British Broadcasting Corporation. She was a Junior Auxiliary life member and a member of Lake Norris Fishing Club. A liberal Presbyterian, she attended services at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. She is survived by her husband, William Edwards Roberts, III, and their two children, Mary Margaret Roberts and Porter McCarter Roberts, in whom she instilled a love of words and senses of curiosity, adventure, and humor. Among other extended family members, she is survived by an aunt, Polly McCarter Thomason, and close relatives Kenneth Holditch, Lee and Frank Faris, Ike McCarter, and Karen and Rufus Ward. Her family would like to thank her devoted friend, Pat Langford Raymond, for her love, laughter, and support; Joni Prescott, Jenny Presswood, and the staff at Kindred at Home and Kindred Hospice; caregiver Paula Harris; and Jan McClanahan for his medical expertise and longtime friendship. A portion of her remains will be scattered along the Tombigbee River where she enjoyed boating with family and friends. There will be a private, family burial service at Friendship Cemetery at a later date. Memorial gifts may be made to an educational institution or charity of the donor’s choice. To celebrate her life, read a good book, prepare a fabulous meal, plan a great trip, get your hands dirty gardening, splurge at a grand restaurant, call a close friend, pop open a bottle of champagne, and, as she often told her children, leave things better than you found them.