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Oldest Known 1906 Quake Survivor Dies At 109

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1906 Earthquake Survivor Rose Cliver

1906 Earthquake survivor Rose Cliver. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Family and friends gathered in downtown San Francisco Monday to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of Rose Cliver, one of the last remaining survivors of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Cliver, 109, who passed away in Santa Rosa on Saturday, was celebrated at John’s Grill on Ellis Street with a lunch, the sounding of a fire truck siren and the ringing of a bell outside the restaurant.

“I figured she’s going to go beyond 110,” Cliver’s nephew Herman Wyrsch said. “There’s no way she’s going to stop but everything comes to an end and I guess the parts got old.”

Wyrsch, 79, of Walnut Creek, recalled the earthquake stories he heard from Cliver and his father, who also was alive for the infamous quake.

He said his father and Cliver went to the top of Bernal Heights, where the family lived, and could see the flames burning the city.

“She remembered sleeping outdoors like they all did for the first few nights, and they could go back into the house and sleep but all the cooking was outdoors,” Wyrsch said. “She was three and a half. A little frightened that the fire was going to come in her direction.”

Wyrsch also spoke about Cliver’s sense of humor, which didn’t waver, even in her later years.

“I remember her making a comment that the city was devastated in 1906 but the city went downhill after that,” Wyrsch said. “She says a lot of changes but not for the good and her statement was ‘It’s gone with the wind.’”

Wyrsch’s son, San Francisco Fire Department Battalion Chief Vic Wyrsch, was also in attendance.

With Cliver’s passing, there are four remaining survivors of the 1906 earthquake.

Bill Del Monte and Winnie Hook are both 106-years-old, George Quilici was born in 1905, and the eldest member of the club is Ruth Newman, who was born in 1901.

Del Monte’s niece, Janette Barroca, said she hopes to get him to the April 18 earthquake breakfast at John’s Grill but it might be a bit hard to get him up at 5 a.m.

“Last year was a little bit rougher and at 106, he’s slowing down,” she said. “Other than that, he’s doing all right.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)

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