SCV centenarian dies at age 106
Claire McWilliams celebrated her birthday in November with family and friends in Valencia
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.
Claire McWilliams smiles as she talks with Malcolm Blue during her birthday celebration and Thanksgiving meal last November in Valencia. Check out www.signalscv.com for more on McWilliams.