John G. Birtwell, age 71, passed away peacefully on Saturday, December 2, 2023, at his home in Walpole, Massachusetts, surrounded by his loving family. Born in Norwood, Massachusetts on August 18, 1952, he was the son of the late John L. and Marianna (Pascucci) Birtwell. John was raised in Walpole, attending Walpole High School, and earning a reporter's position with the Patriot Ledger. Following his graduation in 1970, John began his history and political science studies at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, earning a bachelor's degree in 1974. After his graduation, John remained in Nebraska, applying his background in journalism to obtain a reporter's job with the Lincoln Journal.
John married his beloved wife, Kathleen A. "Katie" Ayres, on December 26, 1976, at Blessed Sacrament Church in Walpole, Massachusetts. Following the wedding, John quickly returned to the midwest, beginning his journey to complete law school. He was accepted into the University of Nebraska's College of Law in Lincoln, studying diligently to earn the degree of Juris Doctor in 1980. In 1982, he and Katie returned to Walpole, and the staff at the Patriot Ledger was pleased to welcome John back to the team. John went on to take a position with the Boston Herald, working as a crime reporter, and could always recount the stories that he wrote.
One day, while working on a story, John was approached by Bill Delahunt, who was surprised that he was working as a reporter after earning a law degree. Bill urged John to take a position as a prosecutor in the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office, thus beginning his role in the court system. John worked in the Wrentham Courthouse and later the Dedham Courthouse and was delighted to help young lawyers build their careers under his guidance in the DA's Office. He built a reputation of fairness and compassion, ensuring the cases he handled were always carried out with professionalism and respect.
In the late 1990s, John was tapped by the Governor's Office to serve as the press secretary for Paul Cellucci. John jumped at the opportunity, and faithfully served alongside Gov. Cellucci throughout his term. He remained on staff through Jane Swift's first year in office but decided at that time to pass the torch. With years of experience in journalism and with the law, John took a position with the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department, where he was named Director of Media and IT, working under Sheriff Joseph McDonald. John remained with the Sheriff's Department through the beginning of this year, rarely, if ever, taking a day off.
John worked hard, thinking of his family long before he would ever think of himself. His love and devotion to his family made him the selfless, humble man that he was. Some of John's favorite moments were spent with his family at the movies, enjoying the quiet time with those he loved most. He looked forward to bringing his children to his parents’ camp, "Camp Johnina," in Sanbornville, New Hampshire on Great East Lake, taking in the beauty of the nature around him.
Beloved husband of Kathleen A. "Katie" (Ayres) Birtwell.
Loving father of John A. Birtwell and his wife, Loula, of Walpole, and Sarah B. Birtwell and her fiancé, Kevin Coleman, of Walpole.
Cherished grandfather of Penelope Birtwell, Alexcia Birtwell, and Christiana Birtwell.
Devoted brother of Nina Staley and her husband, Ronald, of Sanbornville, New Hampshire.
Also survived by his many loving nieces and nephews.
At the request of John's family, all immediate funeral services will be private. A Celebration of Life will be planned for the spring or summer of 2024. Those requesting more information about the service should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in John's name may be made to the Medfield Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 271, Medfield, MA 02052.
Arrangements by James H. Delaney & Son Funeral Home, Walpole.