Society 11:24 15/02/2021 World

San Francisco's oldest resident, Lucy Mirigian, dies at 114

Armenian-American Lucy Mirigian, the oldest resident of San Francisco, has passed away, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“She wasn’t really sick,” her daughter, Sonia Mirigian-Koujakian, said. “She died of being 114.”

Mirigian, who lived with her daughter and son-in-law in the same Balboa Park house she bought in 1950, died Friday morning surrounded by her family. She was believed to be the oldest person in San Francisco.

She lived a full life, her family said, but didn’t really make news until the U.S. government decided in 2017, without any apparent proof, that she was already dead and no longer entitled to receive her $377-a-month government pension. The government said she had not responded to letters; Mirigian said she never got them.

It took the efforts of Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, to set things right, just in time for a vacation to Calistoga that the family had already booked and needed the money to pay for.

Her health was generally robust until very recently, her family said.

“Her blood pressure this week was 110 over 55,” her son-in-law, Jack Koujakian, said. “That’s better than mine.”

Failing eyesight meant that Mirigian could best enjoy Giants games if her daughter put the TV very close to her face and then provided a running play-by-play. Her primary concession to age was switching not long ago from 500-piece jigsaw puzzles to 60-piece jigsaw puzzles, which she worked at the kitchen table, often with a glass of wine alongside.

A jigsaw puzzle figured prominently in a 2018 visit from Mayor London Breed, who brought as a gift a puzzle map of the U.S. The two women chatted about the various epidemics and pandemics Mirigian had survived — there was a polio one and a typhoid one, in addition to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

In 1910, as a 4-year-old, Mirigian left her home in Armenia on the back of a donkey. She crossed the Atlantic on a boat, made her way to Fresno and attended Fresno State University. In San Francisco, she raised a family, taught Sunday school, served as a PTA president, and had a second career making elegant, elaborate sculptures from beads and wire. Her husband of 40 years, Ashod, died in 1998.

For many years she worked as an assistant at the U.S Mint in San Francisco. She retired about 60 years ago. That’s the job that the federal pension was based on. Later on she no longer remembered exactly what her duties involved.

“I did what the person in charge told me to do,” she said in a 2018 interview. “That’s what you do when you work in an office.”

In later years, she enjoyed ocean cruises so much that she took 43 of them.

“I like ships and I like to go places,” she said. “It’s a big world.”

Surviving are her daughter, Sonia Mirigian-Koujakian; her son-in-law, Jack Koujakian, of San Francisco: and her son, Garo Mirigian, of Fremont.

She will be buried in the Ararat Armenian Cemetery of Fresno. A memorial celebration will be held when the pandemic permits.



Source Panorama.am
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