There's Only One 1906 SF Quake Survivor Left

Ruth Newman, who was 5 when massive temblor hit, has died at 113
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 2, 2015 8:19 AM CDT
There's Only One 1906 SF Quake Survivor Left
This April 18, 1906, file photo shows damaged houses in San Francisco following a powerful earthquake.   (AP Photo)

Ruth Newman, thought to be one of two remaining survivors of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 that shook the city and the surrounding area, has died. She was 113. Newman was 5 years old when the quake struck, shaking her home in a Healdsburg ranch about 70 miles north of San Francisco in the early morning of April 18, 1906. "She remembered being downstairs and her father picking her up and running out of the house," says 85-year-old daughter Beverly Dobbs. The family remained on the ranch, where she grew up, because the house wasn't damaged, Dobbs says. "She remembered my grandmother being upset because they had just milked the cow earlier and she had separated the cream and all and put it in containers that got thrown to the floor."

Newman was a strong-willed woman—she drove and played golf until her mid-90s—who enjoyed great health throughout her life, which her daughter attributes to her "joie de vivre." Newman and her late husband met at a dance and after marrying they continued to go out dancing. "She was one who couldn't sit down," Dobbs says, adding that her parents would have a scotch with water every night before bed, a habit that could have helped her longevity. Newman never attended annual quake commemorations, because she preferred to sleep in, Dobbs says. Her mother's July 29 death leaves only one known earthquake survivor still living: William Del Monte, 109, was 3 months old when the earthquake hit, says an organizer of the quake's commemoration events. More than 1,000 people were killed in the quake and fires. (More earthquake stories.)

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