Many in Wellesley head into this week’s Annual Town Meeting with a heavy heart due to the death this past week of Catherine Johnson, a proud 30-year resident who devoted countless hours to making the town a better place to live, work in, and visit.
An active member of town government, from the Planning Board to Advisory to Town Meeting, Catherine’s impact was great.
“To many of us in the Planning orbit, Catherine was a mentor, a colleague, and a friend. She truly loved Wellesley and was deeply dedicated to her work on the Planning Board. I always admired her boundless energy, her incisive mind, her dry sense of humor, and her big heart. I, personally, have lost a valued colleague and a very dear friend. Wellesley has lost one of its greatest champions,” said Kathleen Woodward, a fellow Planning Board member.
Another fellow Planning Board member and friend, Jim Roberti, referred to Catherine’s unique style. “She had a flair about her,” he said, adding that her knowledge of houses in Wellesley was unparalleled.
Catherine’s graduate education in design at Yale School of Art & Architecture and then her career in design, publishing, and real estate, prepared her well to serve the town in many ways.
Gig Babson, another resident who has long been active in town affairs, praised Catherine’s devotion to Wellesley. “She was passionate about planning and was always willing to listen, answer questions and work hard to come up with the right solution. She was a dedicated and extraordinarily hard-working volunteer for our Town.”
Catherine is survived by her two sons, Matthew Dorin (and Christie) and Joshua Dorin.
The family deeply appreciates the outpouring of love and respect for Catherine, and respectfully requests privacy at this time.
We appreciate all of the support Catherine gave to us over the years, and share our condolences with the family.
Mary Bowers says
I, PERSONALLY, will never forget her tireless commitment to our senior center project and I shall always regret never having a cup of coffee with Catherine in “the Cafe” in our Tolles Parsons Center. She was so dedicated to our Town and my heart is broken as I write this and I know I shall miss her.
Sharon Gray says
Like many, I was so sorry to hear the news about Catherine. Condolences to her family and friends.
I wanted to share one small story about Catherine making a difference on behalf of the town. In 2015 when Mass DOT was prepared to finally do something about the dangerous U-turns at the Kingsbury/Route 9 intersection, the agency’s initial solution was to eliminate the median and create a simple T-shaped intersection that would allow for both left and right turns from Kingsbury. As designed, with the median gone, anyone walking across Route 9 would have to slog across eight lanes. Given that so many residents, especially middle schoolers, cross Route 9 on foot at that intersection, Catherine and the Planning Board raised an immediate safety concern. Her biggest priority was ensuring that kids could cross safely, and she worked with the Selectmen’s office and School Committee to communicate the concerns and work through the various options.
As a result of her caring and diligence, the Town requested from Mass DOT what we ultimately ended up with – a sort of quirky signalized U-turn that was 1) far safer than what the Town had dealt with for decades, 2) was pedestrian friendly, and 3) retained much of the character of the intersection. My main takeaway from working with Catherine over those few weeks was how much she cared about keeping kids safe.
Cindy Buser says
Thanks for sharing this story, Sharon. I now think of Catherine every time I make that u-turn on Route 9. It’s a huge improvement over what was there (I would actually go out of my way to avoid crossing Route 9 at Kingsbury), and it’s nice to know she had a hand in it.
Jeanne Mayell says
When someone as vital and brilliant as Catherine just suddenly leaves us, it is hard to believe it. She leaves such a hole in the world. Catherine kindly reached out to me when I first started gardening at Brookside ten years ago, and we later sat on the Brookside Garden board together. She’d grab a few minutes out of her day to dash over to her garden and I’d see her whiz by my plot to put something into the ground. Once I had joined Town Meeting, she always graciously answered the phone when I called with some question. She was patient, caring, made you feel okay about calling in spite of how busy she was, and her knowledge was encyclopedic. But mostly it was her kindness. I feel lucky to have spoken with her a few days before we lost her. She was then, as she always was, big hearted and optimistic about the future. I will miss her at the garden. I will miss her at Town Meeting. I know I am not alone in grieving the loss of such a great person, and in feeling lucky to have known her. My condolences to her sons Matt and Josh who she adored.