May 11, 2005
Dorothy Cavalliere Ketchum Roberts was a woman ahead of her time. She was a hardworking single mother from 1944 to 1964, when such a thing was rare. She raised two children and put them through college.
And along the way she helped shape the growing city of Scottsdale.
"She was a terrific lady," said Mayor Mary Manross. "Everybody wanted to talk to her about history and ask her things about the past of Scottsdale."
Roberts, a lifetime resident of Scottsdale, died May 3. She was 90.
Those who knew her said she was a model for her children and worked quietly behind the scenes to help elevate her family in the community.
"She was independent for a long time," said her daughter, Jan Stover. "She individually raised my brother and I. That was before you could get help. It wasn’t easy to do it then."
Roberts also helped run two prominent family businesses: The Reata Pass Steakhouse and the Cavalliere Blacksmith Shop, both in Scottsdale.
"The amazing thing about this family is that you were never told . . . ‘Oh don’t be ridiculous. You can’t do that,’ " Stover said. "The family has always been a renaissance people. You can do anything and we worked at it."
Stover said growing up without a traditional breadwinner in the family was tough, but her mother was determined and creative. Besides working for the city, her mother earned tips at the local drugstore and finally saved enough to afford a house. The family’s refrigerator originally belonged to the store and was coin operated.
JoAnn Handley, vice president of the Scottsdale Historical Museum, said, "She’s going to be sorely missed because of her knowledge of all the things that have gone on over the years."
Roberts also served as the second Scottsdale city clerk, from 1953 to 1963. City government has changed greatly since she held the position, said Bill Schrader, president of Salt River Project and mayor from 1962 to 1964.
When taking cash for building permits, she used to say, " ‘I haven’t got a cash register, I use a cigar box,’ " Schrader said.
Services will be 3 p.m. today at Messinger Indian School Mortuary and Chapel, 7601 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale. She will be laid to rest at Paradise Memorial Gardens, 9300 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale.
Roberts was a member of the Scottsdale Historical Society. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to that organization.