Anne Hammons Roberts


Anne Roberts was born in 1936, in Jackson Tennessee. After high school, she left her small rural town to attend Radcliffe College. There she became fascinated by the history and culture of the Arab world. She went on to earn a master’s degree from The American University of Beirut. She always spoke of those years in Lebanon as among the most magical of her life. She would later earn another master’s degree in Maternal and Infant Child Health from The University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Anne devoted her life to improving the conditions of people around the world. She served as staff in the Peace Corps during its early years, and the organization always held a special place in her heart. She worked in refugee camps, helping the people there survive desperate conditions. She spent over four decades in international public health, living and working in countries around the world, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. In the US and abroad, she worked collaboratively to develop training and behavior change programs addressing maternal child health, breastfeeding, vaccination, micronutrients, and other focal areas. She was highly respected in her field for her technical skills, participatory methods, incorporation of local customs, and creativity.

She met her husband Tom while on a Harvard research project in Tunisia in the 1960s. In 1974, living on a one-cow farm in Western Massachusetts, they had their son Jake. Anne was a patient, whimsical, and loving mother. She and her son were always close, and over the years they shared many travels.

Anne was a dedicated and courageous activist, especially for the rights of the Palestinian people. She routinely sacrificed her comfort and safety to stand up to violent power, alongside the victims of injustice. Despite the danger and the sometimes dispiriting odds, she did so with a glad heart. “There is joy in resistance,” she liked to say.

All her life she read voraciously.  But she wasn’t the sort of reader who hid in books to escape from the world. Rather, she saw the adventures and mysteries and faraway places she read about as something she could actually find out there in the real world, if she went looking.  And as it turned out, she was absolutely right.

To her sharp and endlessly curious mind, the world was a big, beautiful, exciting place. Wherever she went, she saw her good nature reflected in others, and so she met friendly and fascinating people everywhere. When at home, she loved to open her house to travelers and interesting strangers. She adored good stories and long conversations. She was quick to laugh out loud, and always joyously inclusive in her hospitality.

Anne passed away in Alameda, California in October 2023. She is survived by her son, as well as many loving friends and colleagues who will carry on her legacy.

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