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Tiburon centenarian survived Holocaust, COVID-19

Sarlotte ‘Shari’ Garay is seen with son Mark and his wife, Lynn, last week ahead of Garay’s 100th birthday on May 29, which she celebrated at her Tiburon home with family joining locally and by Zoom. (Elliot Karlan / For The Ark)

Sarlotte Dukes Garay was 23 when Nazis forced her, her mother and her sisters from their home in Hungarian-occupied Czechoslovakia and took them to the Auschwitz concentration camp. There, she was handpicked by the notorious Nazi SS officer and physician Josef Mengele, who performed sadistic medical experiments on prisoners, to serve as his mistress’s maid.

Somehow, her entire family — including her father, who with the other men in her village was sent away to a forced labor camp — survived the Holocaust

After the war, when Garay and her husband were caught smuggling goods and jailed, local authorities released them and apologized after finding a note from the Czechoslovakian president in her purse.

A survivor her entire life, she beat the odds again this January, when at 99 years old she contracted COVID-19 and spent 12 days at MarinHealth Medical Center.

On May 29, the Tiburon resident turned 100, celebrating with family members by her side at her Chandler’s Gate condominium and many more attending the party via Zoom from throughout the East and West coasts and Israel.

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