Roche was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in February 1917 to John Hauser Roche and Anna Roche, a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant. She had two older brothers, Walter and George, and a younger sister, Anna. Soon after giving birth to her sister, Roche's mother died. In 1936, she graduated from Holyoke High School.
In 1940, she moved in with her aunt Jeanne Roche in Flushing, Queens in New York City to pursue a career in publishing. She started as a writer at the Eisner-Iger studio, a packager for Fiction House, in 1940. She wrote such features as "Phantom Lady", "Senorita Rio", "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle", "Kaanga", and "Camilla".
She also created and wrote the female-led adventure newspaper strip Flamingo, drawn by Matt Baker and syndicated in the New York World-Telegram by Iger's Phoenix Features Syndicate. She soon became Iger's associate editor, and after Will Eisner left the partnership, the studio reorganized as Roche & Iger, with Roche as partner, Business Manager, and Executive Editor.
After the comics industry imploded under the moral panic of the 1950s, she found work as a writer and editor for television cartoons. She married television producer George Schaefer in 1956, and though the marriage ended in divorce just two years later, she continued to use his surname until the end of her life. After the divorce, she moved to Montauk, New York, where she had a house built and later began a relationship with a man named Peter Panteles, likely after his wife passed away in 1970.
She died at Southampton Hospital in Montauk, New York, in May 1983, and her body was cremated.