- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2006

BELMONT, Calif. (AP) — Helene Critler, who survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake as a girl and lived for years in a refugee cottage, died April 29. She was 104.

Mrs. Critler died at a Belmont nursing home, according to nephew Walter Ferenz. He said Wednesday that Mrs. Critler suffered a heart attack last December and slowly declined afterward, although she was still very alert in her final months.

Mrs. Critler was born in San Francisco in July 1901, and lived almost her entire life in the city. She grew up in a neighborhood with unpaved roads and little indoor plumbing.

She remembered how the “Big One” knocked plaster off the walls of the South of Market apartment where her family lived. The family salvaged all they could and she guarded the family sewing machine.

Mrs. Critler moved out of the cottage in the 1920s when she got an office job and worked for the federal Department of Labor until she reached mandatory retirement in 1966.

The old Ferenz home is among a handful of earthquake shacks still standing.

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