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Antonette Franzia
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Antonette Marie Franzia, one of the last few survivors of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, died on Monday, Oct. 11 at the age of 104.

Antonette was the wife and mother of prominent California winemakers: her husband, John Franzia Sr., who died in 1998 at the age of 94, co-founded Franzia Brothers Winery in Ripon; her son, John Franzia, Jr., is co-owner of Ceres-based Bronco Wine Co.

She was born on Green Street in San Francisco on Dec. 10, 1905 to Stephen Ferrea, a San Francisco native, and his wife Teresa, a first generation Italian immigrant. She often told the story of how the only things that her family rescued on that fateful day in 1906 were one mattress and baby Antonette. When she was 12 years old, the Ferrea family moved to Stockton where she graduated from Humphreys College and worked briefly as a secretary until her marriage in 1926 to John Franzia, Sr., also a child of first generation Italian immigrants.

The Franzia home was surrounded by grape vines overseen by Antonette's husband, but the kitchen was her domain. Her children remember her transcribing recipes in shorthand from the radio and preparing ambitious feasts for their frequent dinner parties. The festivities often ended with Antonette at the piano tapping out songs she played by ear flawlessly despite a lack of formal musical training.

Guests craved her specialties - homemade ravioli, pasta with pesto and a special red spaghetti sauce concocted from a recipe her husband, John, picked up during trips to Chicago to sell grapes. She was a perpetual motion machine, canning homegrown fruits and vegetables, making pies, tending the trees, shrubs and flowers that stood as testimony to her green thumb and ending the evenings by sewing, crocheting, tatting, knitting and embroidering. She lived in Ripon from 1926 until the 1970s when she moved to Stockton before eventually settling in Modesto in the 1990s.

Survivors include three children, John Franzia, Jr., of Escalon, Barbara Schriber Cox of Clarkston, Washington and Norma Roig of Ripon; 10 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Her first child, Richard Franzia, died in 1946 and her husband also preceded her in death.

Private graveside services were held in Stockton on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a charity of choice. An online guest book is available at

All services are being handled by P.L . Fry & Son Funeral Home of Manteca.

The Escalon (Calif.) Times

Oct. 20, 2010