Katherin M. Sullivan Opie Johnson

Age 82 'Bubbly Irish' Essex resident was a hospital secretary, tended bar well into her 60s and loved reading gossip tabloids.

August 18, 2008|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,Sun reporter

Katherin Marie Sullivan Opie Johnson, a longtime Essex resident who tended bar well into her 60s, died Friday at a nursing home in Martinsburg, W.Va. She was 82.

Katherin Marie Sullivan was born in Baltimore to Irish immigrant parents. She was an only child and grew up on Ashland Avenue. As a young girl, she got 25 cents from her neighbors to wash their front steps - her first job.

After she graduated from high school, she met Clyde Nesbit Opie at a downtown Baltimore lounge. She married Mr. Opie, who was a maintenance worker for airplane manufacturer Martin Marietta in Middle River, when she was 25. The two had six children, three boys and three girls, before they divorced. Mr. Opie died of a heart attack in 1978.

In 1969, she married Carl Johnson. He died in 1991.

Mrs. Johnson worked for 26 years as a secretary at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Described by her youngest daughter, Melissa Opie Wood, as "a bubbly Irish lady," she worked weekends at a bar on the corner of Eastern Boulevard and Mace Avenue in Essex. Patrons called the bar "313" because of its address.

She also enjoyed reading supermarket tabloids such as the National Enquirer and Star, her daughter said.

"She liked to get the scoop," Ms. Wood said. "She liked to gossip. It gave her a reason to call someone and say, 'I just gotta let you know what's going on. Guess what I heard?' "

About eight years ago, Mrs. Johnson's health began to deteriorate and she moved to the Shenandoah Health Village Center in Charles Town, W.Va., to be closer to one of her daughters.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Besides Ms. Wood, who lives in Freeland, Mrs. Johnson is survived by two other daughters, Mary K. Opie Burdette of Charles Town, W.Va., and Elizabeth Ann Duncan of Baltimore; three sons, Brian P. Opie of Falls Church, Va., James Nesbit Opie and Phillip John Opie, both of Baltimore; nine grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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