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Catherine F. Johnson

December 3, 2012
The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE, MI. Catherine F. (Barbiere) Johnson, age 89, of 819 Grove Street, Marquette, entered eternal life Friday morning, November 30, 2012, at the Norlite Nursing Center, in the loving, comforting care of her family.

Born June 27, 1923, in Ishpeming, one of thirteen children born to Italian immigrant parents, Felix and Concetta (Sarvello) Barbiere, Catherine was raised in Ishpeming and was a 1941 graduate of the Ishpeming High School. She was one of many women that worked at the H.W. Gossard factory in Ishpeming and was thrilled to have played a part in helping Phyllis Wong create a story on "The Gossard Girls". On August 3, 1946, Catherine married Robert H. Johnson at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Ishpeming, and together the couple established a home on Grove Street and raised four children. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 2011.

While her longest employment was as an operator with the Michigan Bell Telephone Company, a career that spanned over 20 years, her most fulfilling role was as wife, mother, and homemaker. Catherine loved her years working as an operator and developed close friendships with many operators, keeping in close contact with them well into her retirement years. She possessed excellent cooking and baking skills and her children's friends never tired of going to the Johnson house where the first order of business was being greeted by Mrs. Johnson and then being given something to eat. She loved feeding people both with food and good conversation and enjoyed baking for family and friends. Bob's golf outings were always made a little sweeter when she loaded him down with her famous oatmeal cookies for his foursome. And, who could forget her other specialties like date bars, jelly rolls, and Saturday pizzas for the family and neighbors. She simply possessed a graciousness that allowed her to be a good hostess and of service to others in a spirit of giving and self-sacrifice. Whenever anyone needed Catherine, she would stop what she was doing and help them, humbly putting the needs of others before her own, denying herself and living for Christ. Fancy clothes, hairdos, and jewelry did not interest her. She taught her children that "it's what's in your heart that counts." (1 Samuel 16:7). As members of St. Peter Cathedral, both Catherine and Bob volunteered for charitable causes, spending many hours serving funeral luncheons at St. Peter Cathedral, and enjoyed being involved in the work of the St. Vincent DePaul Society, especially at the food pantry. Although possessing a strong work ethic, learned at an early age, Catherine was also a spunky Italian with a determination to get things done. She and Bob assisted their sons in opening the Casa Calabria Italian Restaurant in 1981 and were familiar faces, spending many hours over the years greeting patrons or enjoying their evening cup of coffee. They also helped their sons on the weekends in cooking their family recipes, retiring in 2000 following 19 years of devoted service to their children and the public. Catherine and Bob continued for many years, keeping the family close, cooking family Sunday dinners of baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and her family favorite, homemade noodles covered with Bob's delicious gravy. They also enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, taking rides or just sitting on the porch watching the world go by. Grove Street was Catherine's home for 57 years where many great friendships were made with neighbors which became one big family. Catherine, Bob, and family valued these friendships tremendously.

Article Photos

Catherine F. Johnson

Catherine is survived by her children, Jim (Joan) Johnson, Roberta (Jerry) Jurecic, Phil Johnson and his friend, Chantae Lessard, and Rosemary (Bill) Kangas all of Marquette; her grandchildren, Angela (Jason) Liberty, Katie (Mike) Rowe, Jimmy (Angela) Johnson, Amy (Mike) Oman, Eliot (fiance, Sara Oster) Kroll, Jerry Jurecic, Eric Johnson and his friend, Toni DePetro, Anthony (Kari) Jurecic, Chiara Johnson, and Michael Kangas; 10 great-grandchildren; her sister, Anne Marie (Arnold) Steive of Germantown, WI; sisters-in-law, Carmen Barbiere of Ishpeming and Bernice Barbiere of Milwaukee, WI; numerous nieces and nephews. In addition to her parents, Catherine was preceded in death by her husband, Robert, on January 6, 2012; and siblings, Frances Johnson, Marion Gustafson, Magdalen Anderson, Christine Engstrom, and Quintlin, Tony, Bruno, Jimmy, Nicky, Tino, and Salvatore Barbiere.

Friends may call at the Swanson-Lundquist Funeral Home on Tuesday from 4:00 pm until 7:00 pm where a parish prayer service at will be held at 5:00 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Peter Cathedral on Wednesday, December 5, at 12:00 noon with Rev. Msgr. Michael Steber as celebrant.

Catherine's grandchildren will serve as escorts. A reception will follow in Cathedral Hall. Interment will be made in the spring at the Holy Cross Cemetery.

Memorials may be directed to the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

As time went on and her health declined, the family found comfort in the fact that Catherine had no fear of death. She knew that even though we didn't deserve it, "Jesus died for our sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). The family would like to sincerely thank UP Home Health, Hospice, and Private Duty, Arcadia and Private Duty, Mather Nursing Center, and the Norlite Nursing Center staff for their compassionate care and many kindnesses extended to Catherine and her family.

Appreciation also goes to personal friends who gave assistance and support, Sharon Soave, Katie Baker, Ashley Haebig, Hilda Ball, and Matt Holt for helping us through some tough times.

Her kitchen is empty.

Her hands now at rest.

Her date bars and cookies were always the best.

Her laughter a memory,

Her brown eyes no more,

She's taken her journey

To God's Heavenly door.

Condolences may be expressed online at



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