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Clara J. Johnston

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Clara J. Johnston Obituary
Clara J. Johnston nee Foss, peacefully passed away at Medway Country Manor on Sunday, May 17, where she had been a resident since July of 2012. Mrs. Johnston was the daughter of the late Gertrude V.[ Martin ] Foss and Richmond W. Foss who then owned The Unionville Woolen Mill. Mrs. Mrs. Johnston was also the widow of World War II veteran James C. Johnston Sr. who passed away in 1991. Clara Johnston had lived in Franklin, since her birth on November 5, 1918. Mrs. Johnston was a woman of great artistic ability whose many artistic works are treasured by her family. Mrs. Johnston passed on her great love of art to her, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. During her long useful and active life, art was never far from Mrs. Johnston's mind. She was a 1936 graduate of Franklin High School and took an active part in the planning of her class of 1936 Franklin High School reunions until the last reunion in 2001. As a young woman, Mrs. Johnston made hats some of which were featured in the film Gone With the Wind in 1939. She was married to James C. Johnston Sr. in 1940. After the Second World War began, she worked in the war and defense industry until the birth of her first child James C. Johnston Jr. Mrs. Johnston was subsequently employed at the Evans Case Company in the 1950's and early 1960's as a designer and decorator of fine ceramics where she originated several original lines of ceramic products including a three piece cigarette set featuring a lighter, shaped like a knight chess piece, for actor Richard Boone who was staring in a popular television series at the time called Paladin. Mrs. Johnston also operated Johnston's Antiques in Franklin with her husband and son James Jr. from 1962 until she retired from the business in 2000. Mrs. Johnston was a well know fixture on the New England antique scene having done hundreds of shows and bourses with her son over four decades. Mrs. Johnston was a very accomplished tole artist whose work commanded the attention of the prestigious Brasher Guild who displayed her work in the mid 1950's. Membership in the Guild was extended to her, but citing the constraints on her time with family obligations, Mrs. Johnston turned down this honor. Mrs. Johnston gave up her loved work during the summer months of the 1950's and early 1960's to spend quality time with her children. Mrs. Johnston encouraged her children to succeed in their lives and spared no effort to see that they achieved their full academic potential. As time passed, Mrs. Johnston became involved with both charitable and civic affairs and worked on several committees connected with the Town of Franklin's various Bicentennial Celebrations. Mrs. Johnston also worked with Meals on Wheels, various service clubs, The Franklin Historical Society where she served as Corresponding Secretary, and with many other worthy causes as well as political campaigns for candidates of the Democratic Party. As a descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins on the Foss side of her family and with family roots going back to The Mayflower, and her family connections to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Clara Johnston was very interested in history. Mrs. Johnston came to public attention in the 1960's with her heroic efforts to save her family home, the historic Oliver Pond House, from being taken by eminent domain in the construction of Rt. 495. She even exposed a Sweet Heart Deal in public land takings in interviews featured on the front pages of local papers. As the result of her efforts, and those of her son James, the Oliver Pond House was saved and still stands today as a living artifact of Franklin's colonial and Revolutionary War past in the historic village known as Unionville. The Oliver Pond House has been toured many times as part of charitable fund raising projects for The Alden Club of Franklin Scholarship Fund and for the benefit of the former Southwood Hospital. Many history classes have enjoyed trips to this historic home as well as meals cooked in the kitchen fireplace in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. Mrs. Johnston also volunteered her time in the public elementary schools of Franklin during the town's Bicentennial Celebrations of the 1970's with both house tours of her home and colonial craft demonstrations. Mrs. Johnston was a lifelong devoted communicant of the Catholic Church and will be buried from St. Mary's Church in Franklin on Friday May 22. Mrs. Johnston will be waked from 9 AM to 9:45 AM at the Ginley Funeral Home on 131 Main Street in Franklin, Mass. The funeral will follow at 10 AM at St. Mary's Church in Franklin. Interment will follow in the Union Street Cemetery on the corner of West Central and Union Streets in Franklin. Mrs. Johnston is survived by her son James C. Johnston Jr. of Franklin and her daughters Mrs. Linda [Mrs. Albert] DeCotis of Medway, and Mrs. Janice [Mrs. Richard] DeMarzi of Wrentham. She is also survived by her grandsons Brian James DeCotis of Milford, and his wife Kelly, and Jason Paul DeMarzi of Wrentham, as well as, two great grandchildren Alexa Paige DeCotis of Milford, and Zachery Thomas De Cotis also of Milford. Mrs. Johnston was the sister of Mrs. Charlotte [Mrs. Armand] Fregeau of Franklin. Her brothers, the late Mr. Richmond W. Foss of Franklin and the late Mr. Joseph Foss of Marlboro, and her youngest sister the late Mrs. Gertrude Carrigan of Olympia, Washington had predeceased her. Contributions can also be made in Mrs. Johnstons memory to the , P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38148.

Published in The Country Gazette from May 20 to June 4, 2015
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