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Catherine Gay Sumner 1803-1899

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

Born on August 20, 1803, Catherine Gay Sumner was the oldest person in Norwood following the death of Mary Dean Chickering in 1897. Catherine was born and spent her early life on a farm on Pleasant Street along the Norwood/East Walpole line, an area of South Dedham known as the Fuller or Gould neighborhood.

Part of the respected Gay family in South Dedham, Catherine Gay married Moses Sumner, one of the most well-known men in the village. Mr. Sumner was one of the original employees in Deacon Willard Everett’s cabinet making business. The couple had three children. Mr. Sumner died in 1868.

For a considerable time after his husband’s death, Mrs. Sumner lived in a house along Washington Street near what became the Norwood Press. She had four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. 

“Grandma Sumner,” as she was known to a wide circle of friends, died in the home at 255 Nahatan Street she shared with her daughter, Mrs. Martha Day, the only one of her children to survive her.

Like Mary Dean Chickering, Mrs. Sumner led a quiet life. She was a member of the Universalist Church and led an earnest, devoted Christian life. As her obituary noted, “Her gentle, sunny ways made her in her beautiful old age a general favorite with old and young.” She was kind and generous to all. Up until her last days, she retained her mental faculties and had been physically well until six months or so before her death. 

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