SCV centenarian dies at age 106

Claire McWil­liams cel­e­brated her birthday in Novem­ber with fam­ily and friends in Va­len­cia

The Signal - - NEWS - By Sig­nal Staff

After more than a cen­tury of a very full life, one of Santa Clarita’s old­est res­i­dents, Claire McWil­liams, died Wed­nes­day sur­rounded by fam­ily and friends. She was 106.

The Sig­nal pro­filed McWil­liams on her 106th birthday this past Novem­ber. In that story, her son de­scribed her as hav­ing a tough­ness and ten­der­ness that made her halfIn­di­ana Jones, half-Mother Teresa.

Mal­colm Blue, who met McWil­liams in church shortly after he moved to the SCV more than 20 years ago, de­scribed the birthday party, and how vi­brant she was.

“At one point when she was singing, ‘Happy Birthday,’ she clapped her hands over her head like a prize­fighter. She was a perky lit­tle thing,” he re­called. “She had an amaz­ing, in­cred­i­ble life.”

After grad­u­at­ing with a nurs­ing de­gree in 1936, “which was un­heard of then,” Blue noted, she was a “public health nurse,” he said, who drove up and down the coast in a woodie wagon -- one of Amer­ica’s ear­lier sta­tion wag­ons, giv­ing health care to mi­grant work­ers.

After sev­eral years of ser­vice there, she moved to Hawaii, where she also had fam­ily, and was an RN at the time of the in­fa­mous at­tack on Pearl Har­bor.

She had a front seat to sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant events in not just U.S., but world his­tory, Blue added, shar­ing a story from her about how she fled China when Chi­ang Kai-shek’s gov­ern­ment took over, as her hus­band was a pi­lot for the now-de­funct Pan Am, fly­ing out of hubs in the Far East.

She al­ways had a great sense of hu­mor, Blue re­called. .

“One night she had a fall and she pushed her­self on her floor to get to the emer­gency cord,” he said, and when seven first-re­spon­ders showed up at her door, she quizzi­cally asked, “‘How come there’s seven of you this time,’” Blue re­called. The firstre­spon­der in charge sheep­ishly re­sponded that it’s a slow night, and most of the of­fi­cials on seen had never met any­one your age be­fore.

“And she just got the big­gest kick out of that,” he said.

Niko­las Sa­muels/The Sig­nal

Claire McWil­liams smiles as she talks with Mal­colm Blue dur­ing her birthday cel­e­bra­tion and Thanks­giv­ing meal last Novem­ber in Va­len­cia. Check out www.sig­ for more on McWil­liams.

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