Catherine Forrester, 90, Moved To Springfield Area In '60s 'To Do Better'

Jun 3, 2020

The number of COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities in Massachusetts rose to more than 4,200 last weekend. One of them was Catherine Forrester, who was living in Agawam when she passed away.

Forrester's daughter, Lynn Johnson, said her mother was one of 11 children and grew up down South.

Johnson said Forrester died on a Friday — and had just turned 90 on the Tuesday before she died.

Forrester moved to an apartment with a screened-in porch on Sherman Street in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the 1960s, her daughter said, and raised four kids while working as a seamstress at Arrow Elastic.

"She came here to be better — to do better," Johnson said.

She remembered her mother as loving Dunkin Donuts glazed doughnuts. 

"My son, that’s what he did when he got out from work — he took her glazed doughnuts. She loved that. It was sweet, you know," she said.

Forrester is also remembered as an affectionate woman and a great hugger.

"The little little grands — oh she just hugged them, hugged them, hugged them," Johnson said. "And call 'em — you know, like them little ones, they just want to play. They don't want to be bothered, and stuff. And she'd say, 'Come here! Gimme a hug!'"

Gathering the family for the holidays was important to Forrester.

"She could cook." Johnson said. "She was good at cornbread and dressing."

But Johnson said replicating her mother's recipes is no match for the original.

"I've picked up that dressing. I've had to look and look," she said. "And you know, I don't care what you cook from somebody else, it's not going to be the same. It can be close — but it's not going to be the same."

When Thanksgiving comes around, Forrester's daughter said it'll be tough.

"Whether I'm going to be able to make that dressing or not, I'm saying, you know, that's going to be hard for me," she said.

Johnson said Forrester attended Springfield's Mt. Calvary Baptist Church for more than 50 years — left side, back row — often wearing a black hat with a big brim and a large black net bow.

"You couldn’t tell who was under that hat, that hat was so big," Johnson said, adding that her mother was known as being "a dresser."

Johnson said she'd go clothes shopping with her mother, and she'd take the longest time to pick out pieces. She was very thoughtful when choosing clothes and assembling outfits.

Catherine Holden Forrester died April 24 of complications from COVID-19. She was a resident of Heritage Hall East in Agawam.