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Catherine Johnson, 90, artist, newspaper matriarch

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Catherine C. Johnson, the matriarch of the Johnson newspaper family and a noted artist and naturalist, died Tuesday morning at her summer home in Henderson Harbor. She was 90.

Mrs. Johnson remained active into this year as secretary of the Johnson Newspaper Corp., publisher of the Watertown Daily Times and 10 other daily and weekly newspapers in upstate New York. She was the widow of John B. Johnson, editor and publisher of the Times for 52 years, until his death in 2001.

Born Feb. 12, 1914, in Watertown, she was the daughter of James Allison and Minna Capron Anthony Common. Her Anthony family ancestors were among the region's first settlers in the early 1800s. The Minna Anthony Common Center on Wellesley Island State Park is named after her mother.

Mrs. Johnson graduated from St. Lawrence University in 1931 and received a master's in journalism in 1937 from Columbia University. She joined the Watertown Daily Times as a reporter in 1937 and later was named society editor.

She married John B. Johnson in 1941.

Mrs. Johnson was also active as an artist and naturalist. She played a major role in organizaing the North Country Artists Guild and served on other area art organizations. She exhibited her paintings at shows throughout the United States and England.

In 1960, Governor Nelson Rockefeller appointed Mrs. Johnson to the Thousand Islands State Park Commission, on which she served for 40 years until stepping down as its chairwoman in 2000.

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