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Survivor of 1906 SF quake dies at 109

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POSTED February 20, 2012 9:44 p.m.

SANTA ROSA (AP) — One of the oldest known survivors of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake has died at age 109, family members said Monday.

Rose Cliver was 3 years old when the massive quake struck her home in the rural Bernal Heights district in the early morning of April 18, 1906. She and her family climbed a hill after the shaking stopped and watched the fires that subsequently destroyed much of the city, she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2009 when she attended the annual commemoration of the fateful day.

“They wouldn’t let us live in our house afterward,” Cliver recalled. “We had to live in the backyard in a tent.”

Cliver passed away at a residential care home in Santa Rosa on Saturday, according to her son, Don Cliver of Santa Rosa.

One of 13 children, Rose Cliver wasn’t expected to live long after her premature birth, but she enjoyed great health throughout her life, her family said. She lived independently in her Ingleside home until a stroke and a fall in 2008 forced her to move in with her son, he said.

“She had a little dementia and was confined to a wheelchair the last year,” Don Stegeman, Cliver’s grandson, told The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa. “Until the past couple of years, she was in great shape. She had been saying she was ready to go, but they wouldn’t take her. She had a fantastic sense of humor.”

Cliver never joined the annual earthquake commemorations but finally agreed to participate in 2009, at the urging of her family.

“We pushed her into it,” Stegeman said. “She kind of liked her 15 minutes in the limelight, but felt that everyone was making a big ado over nothing.”

More than 1,000 people were killed in the earthquake and fires. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, measurements of the 1906 quake have ranged from magnitude 7.7 to 8.3.

With Cliver’s death, only four known earthquake survivors are still living, said Lee Houskeeper, an organizer of the annual commemoration events. The oldest is believed to be Ruth Newman, 110, of Pebble Beach.

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