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AYER — M. Cathleen “Cathy” (Burrell) Johnston, 72, died Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007 at the Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, after an illness.

Mrs. Johnston was born in Fitchburg on Dec. 4, 1934, the daughter of Thomas C. and Katharine E. (Donahue) Burrell and was a lifelong Ayer resident. She was a 1952 graduate of Ayer High School.

Mrs. Johnston is survived her husband of 53 years, Peter K. Johnston; four sons and three daughters-in-law, Kevin A. and Susan Johnston, of Shirley, Thomas F. and Sharon Johnston, of Farmington, N.H., Timothy P. and Cheryl Johnston, of Ayer, and Keith P. Johnston, of Ayer; and two daughters and their husbands, Karen M. and Ted Januskiewicz Jr., of Ayer, and Colleen M. and Peter Suddath, of Savannah, Ga. She also leaves 12 grandchildren, Sarah A. Gibbons, Jeremy S. Januskiewicz, Megan E. Roy, Andrea Johnston, Kelsey Johnston, Kyle M. Suddath, Devin C. Suddath, Gregory Johnston, Lauren Johnston, Dawn Weeks, Jessica Macdonald and Samantha Place; and four great-grandchildren, Sarah E. Gibbons, Chloe Weeks, Brian Weeks and Aiden Place.

She was the sister of the late Thomas Burrell, of Ayer.

For over 40 years, Mrs. Johnston worked as a newspaper reporter for the Lowell Sun. She was also a correspondent for the Boston Globe and, more locally, the Public Spirit.

She was a communicant of St. Mary’s Church in Ayer and a member of its Catholic Daughters of America. For over 30 years, she assisted her husband in his role as the caretaker of St. Mary’s Cemetery, Ayer.

She enjoyed caring for and especially enjoyed raising boxers. She was an avid Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots fan.

A funeral Mass was celebrated on Monday, Nov. 19 at St. Mary’s Church, followed by burial in the parish cemetery.

Arrangements were handled for the family by the T.J. Anderson & Son Funeral Home in Ayer. Please see www.andersonfuneral.com for additional information.

Memorial contributions may be made to Ayer Ambulance Association, 7 West Main St., Ayer, MA 01432 or the Nashoba Nursing Service, 2 Shaker Road, Shirley, MA 01464.