Mourners Gather to Remember 1906 Earthquake Survivor

A memorial was held for Rose Cliver, who died at the age of 109, Monday.

Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012  |  Updated 8:04 AM PDT
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Mourners Gather to Remember 1906 Earthquake Survivor

Joe Rosato Jr.

A picture of the Tivoli Opera House that was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. The Ambassador Hotel now occupies the site.

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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.

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.

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