Penelope Roberts

Profile Updated: January 29, 2022
Penelope Roberts
Residing In: Sierra Vista, AZ USA
Teaching or Occupational Field: Systems & Security Eng; Process Engineering
Spouse/Partner: None.
Children: Adriano Abraxas. Born In Heidelberg 1981
Penelope Roberts


Yes! Attending Reunion
Where and when were you involved with UMUC's programs (scroll down to see all)?

Heidelberg. 1981-1997

I fetched up in Heidelberg without a clue that there were any more than a handful of American troops in Europe. I met 4 women in the restuarant where I was working as a barrista, and they were all working for the DoD. They set me straight.

That night, on AFN, I heard an advertisement for a secretary position at The University of Maryland. I applied the next day, and started working on 2 January 1981.

I remember there was a snow storm and I didn't know how to get to the im Bosseldorn. I had also had to buy a pair of working shoes as I was a vagabond with only sneakers. I started work with Emily Russo, who also was hired for Planning and Development, and shared a birthday with Joe Arden. The rest, as they say, is history. 16 years of history.

I worked in Planning and Develoment with Adelynne H. Whitaker until she retired. Then went to Computer Studies where I worked on student systems, taught weekend seminars, and Information Systems Analysis and Design. I finished my B.S. and an M.S. all with the prestigious imprimatur of the University of Maryland.

What roles did you play? Faculty (Full-time; part-time) Staff Accompanying spouse

full time staff, part time faculty; manager Computer Field Support

List the specific locations where you taught or worked for UMUC:

Heidelberg, Holland, Stuttgart, Wurzburg, Italy. others I can't remember.

Penelope's Latest Interactions

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Mar 08, 2024 at 1:06 PM

Happy birthday dear friend. Love to you and your whole family. And sdriano says hi to sean!

Jan 10, 2024 at 11:04 AM

To my friends and former colleagues: The link below2 is to a gofundme page for Adriano and myself. The Social Security Administration, in 2023, declared Adriano "cured" of his disabilities and has cut him off from the disability payments for which he worked his whole adult life. In addition, they have seized my social security to pay them the approximately $58,000 they say he has to pay back.

This has left us in rather straightened circumstances. Any donations will be most welcome but most important, any wider distribution of our predicament would be greatly appreciated.

I cannot express how humbling it is to know that this community, which pretty much took me from silly teenager to adulthood, gave me an education, and helped me raise Adriano, could also be there for us when our lives have taken such a horrifying turn.

Thank you all and everyone for any boost you give or your kind thoughts.


Jan 07, 2024 at 11:47 AM

Happy birthday, old bean!

Penelope Roberts has a birthday today. New comment added.
Nov 22, 2023 at 12:33 PM

Posted on: Nov 22, 2023 at 4:33 AM

Penelope Roberts has left an In Memory comment for Melanie Higgins.
Jun 30, 2023 at 6:24 PM

In the 1980s, somebody asked me if I wanted to type a dissertation for an American woman who was living in Heidelberg.  I agreed, and I met Melanie.  After months of work, typing and retyping, the document was finished but the bond between us was strong and clear.

I was raising a critically ill child (he was 2 or 3 when he met Mel, or Dr. Mel as he has always called her), and she lived at the foot of the mountain in Ziegelhausen where we had a flat.  She began teaching at the University of Maryland, where I worked from 1980 to 1999, and we started hanging out.

When I say hanging out, we were running partners, dinner party buddies, movie actors, travel pals, and we rented hundreds of movies to watch at each other’s houses.  We had some arguments, we even broke up for a couple of years, but we were magnets for each other.  At one point, Melanie gave me the name of her therapist and told me to go see him, even though she had a rule not to share her work therapist with anyone…that’s how close we were.  She saved my life with that and gave Adriano a better mother.

Melanisia (my pet name for her), first and foremost, was just plain interesting.  She was funny, smart, and insightful.  And she was a 1000% caretaker.  Her relationship with my son, Adriano, was one of respect and care.  I have photos of Mel and Adriano taken all over Europe: my favorite being of the two of them at the turn out before the San Gottardo Tunnel in Switzerland around 1988.  She is hugging him from behind and they are beaming as if they just discovered gold in them thar hills!  But I actually have photos of her and various friends and family at border crossings, ferry docks, and even airport terminals.  Better than photographs was driving somewhere with her.  On our first visit to Adriano’s granny in Italy she taught us to play a travel game she called Stink Pink, or Stinky Pinky.  I can’t remember anything about the game but we laughed hysterically for miles and miles trying to figure out how to play it.

Once, when we had gone to Taormina she found a giant flower pot that looked exactly like my boyfriend of the time.  We didn’t have a way to purchase and get it back to Heidelberg so she took a photo of it and I still have that photo to laugh about.  She sketched a lot of the places we visited and I have those sketches too.  We laughed our butts off at the chaos at Al Italia Airlines and it took us months to get rid of the $3000 Hertz Italy charges for a 5 day car rental!  She was the absolute best companion one could ask for.

Melanie loved to sing.  We went to churches to hear choirs practice, and she tried to get me to join the choir in the church at the end of her street.  But I wasn’t as good as she was and I was still trying to finish my degree, so I settled for listening to her.  One time we got in a cab to go to dinner before a concert and she knew the driver because she knew his dog!  Dinner was with a bunch of art dealers and university professors, but she knew the cab driver’s dog.  That is eternally Melanie!

Mel was an artist practicing the art of loving people and trying to lift them up.  She loved life and her family and she refused to let the slings and arrows change her except for the better.  Like all of us, she made mistakes.  She tried to fix the hurts and make her mistakes count as opportunities rather than as sins.  She wasn’t capable of behaving badly or hurting even strangers.  At the end of her father’s life, every week she watched the Lawrence Welk show with him over Zoom!  That’s love on a massive scale!

It is so hard to try to sum up a long and beautiful friendship when you are grieving the loss of that person.  But I know that Melanie is always with me and with Adriano and I refuse to see her passing as a loss but as a transition to the future.  I could carry on for another 100 pages and not capture her essence, her intelligence, her heart.  But I know, when I think of her, all of that floods back to me on a wave of memories and mementos.  These are the things that will be in my future and in Adriano’s future as we travel our lives the rest of the way without her.  She can still make me laugh.  She can now make me cry.  Love and friendship endure, as  Melaisia will.


Penelope Roberts added a comment on her Profile.
Mar 01, 2023 at 2:21 PM
Penelope Roberts added a comment on her Profile.
Mar 01, 2023 at 2:19 PM
Penelope Roberts has a birthday today.
Nov 22, 2022 at 4:33 AM
Mar 06, 2022 at 8:46 PM

Happy birthday old bean! Ive heard that 70 is the new 80! So you’re right on track????

Jan 29, 2022 at 12:37 PM
Penelope Roberts has a birthday today. New comment added.
Nov 22, 2021 at 9:16 AM

Posted on: Nov 22, 2021 at 4:33 AM

Penelope Roberts posted a message. New comment added.
Sep 09, 2021 at 3:18 PM

Posted on: Sep 01, 2021 at 4:29 PM

It is good that this site keeps me up to date on your doings! So, now I hear that you have a birthday coming up and, lo and behold, it's the same as my dad's! (different year, naturally)! Is that weird or what?

I don't know if I told you we moved back to Sierra Vista but we've been back in the SW for 7 months. I'm getting restless...and with New Mexico next door, don't be surprised if I request a meet up at a local coffee shop!

Happy Birthday, Bob. I wish you a good year with health and tranquility.


Penelope Roberts has a birthday today.
Nov 22, 2020 at 4:33 AM
Mar 26, 2020 at 12:29 PM

I was always a day dreamer. When I was a little kid, I would try to imagine being 50. I would picture the year 2000...unimaginable.

Now that I'm in the population vulnerable by age to the pandemic, I guess it would be a good idea to let everyone know how things are going here in Virginia. Despite all my daydreaming, reality has been very much more interesting, if more fraught, than I could have imagined.

Adriano works at the local grocery store. I am retired but run a shop (see earlier posts), one more family member is retired, and one works for defense contractors.
So only Adriano really is at risk.
We made ourselves cloth masks. (excellent patterns on the internet) and bought vacuum cleaner bags for their hepa filters and cut them to the right size to go in the masks.

Last year someone gave us a 1936 Buick (Adriano will probably correct the date...I get confused!) and so we had a huge stockpile of coveralls and gloves and stuff from rat rodding it. We contacted as many friends over 70 that we had and are passing them out since there are none available in stores.

We talk a lot about the pandemic. My stance is multi-faceted.

1 - I have been fortunate to be born and live in the piece of the earth that provided me with anti-biotics, sanitary living conditions, and excellent education. While I was enjoying the fruits of my good fortune, people were (and still are) living on garbage heaps.

2 - I worked in this paradise such that I can live a comfortable retirement. In addition, I am in good enough health to run a business and continue earning without any stress.

3 - Adriano has grown into a hard working friendly guy. He is the neighborhood ambassador for dogs and known by everyone who shops at his Giant (local grocery conglomerate).

Even with the Orange Peril next door in DC, I have benefited from the accident of my birth.

Our home is an oasis of laughter, TV crime shows, dogs and cats, and cooking.

I/we plan to see what kind of world is at the other end of this. I sincerely hope many of you are there with me/us.

Stay well. Stay home. Don't believe what the orange peril says...keep track of Anthony Fauci!!!

Dec 31, 2019 at 12:43 PM

Adriano opened a store on Etsy about 2 years ago. He got a bit overwhelmed, so I took over. We have a January sale going on right now and are putting up new stuff every week.


After 20 years in engineering, and about 4 years of retirement, this shop is just a great second career for me. I had a hip replacement in October and didn’t miss a day at the shop!

Come in and visit...see what a 2nd career in commerce can do!!

Penelope Roberts has a birthday today. New comment added.
Nov 22, 2019 at 3:39 PM

Posted on: Nov 22, 2019 at 4:35 AM

Penelope Roberts has left an In Memory comment for Fabian Schupper.
Jul 08, 2019 at 8:33 PM

After chatting with Fabian one time, someone said “Fabian’s inner life is sooo much more fascinating than anyone’s I’ve ever known.”  I didn’t know him that well...just from hanging around HQ, but was drawn to him nonetheless. He was a true gentleman and scholar.

Penelope Roberts has a birthday today.
Nov 22, 2018 at 4:33 AM
Penelope Roberts posted a message. New comment added.
Mar 15, 2019 at 11:23 AM

Posted on: Mar 08, 2018 at 12:03 PM

Happy Birthday my dear dear friend! Penelope and Adriano!!!

Penelope Roberts has left an In Memory comment for Samuel Thompson.
Jan 05, 2018 at 4:33 PM

My memory may be faulty, but I believe Sam agreed to be Santa one year.  Dressed in a red suit, he sat in the library and took gift requests from children and adults alike.  If I am correct, then I have a lovely photo of Sam with a 7 year old Adriano on his lap.

This event was a strong contributor to Adriano’s lifelong belief in Santa...after all, they have met!

Thanks Sam!