LEON, Spain – The man considered the longest-lived person in Europe has died in Spain. He was 111.
Francisco Fernandez Fernandez, known as “Quico,” died suddenly at home Friday in the small town of Pinilla de la Valderia in the northern province of Leon.
Though he was born July 24, 1901, he normally celebrated his birthday a day later on the feast of St. James with his whole family gathered around him, as he did this year as well surrounded by three children, seven grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter, to celebrate his 111th year.
On his last birthday, one of his grandchildren said that his grandpa was in good health.
Fernandez lived through the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War, the Franco dictatorship, industrialization and Spain’s return to democracy.
In his long life he was a shepherd, emigrated to Argentina and later returned to his home country where he took up farming, harvested resin and lumbered pinewood in a forest devastated just days ago by the worst wildfire in the Castile and Leon region in the last 10 years.
He treated his many visitors to countless anecdotes, though not all of them happy memories, like the time in 1936 when he had to bury reprisal victims found dead on a hill during the Spanish Civil War.
Or like when he was a child herding sheep and got lost in the snow, spent more than 24 hours wandering on the mountain and, as he told it, almost froze to death.
The more than 100 years of Francisco Fernandez were even the subject of a study by the Harvard University Medical School.