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Pair of Surviving Golden Gate Bridge Builders Die

Mill Valley resident Ed Ashoff’s death at 97 came one week before the passing of 95-year-old Jack Balestreri, believed to have been the last survivor among the original builders of the 75-year-old span.

With people from all over the world gather on May 27 to celebrate the , two of its original builders won’t be on hand to enjoy the fruits their labor.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, Mill Valley resident Edward Ashoff died at his home April 14 of natural causes. He was 97.

One week later, San Francisco resident Jack Balestreri, believed to have been the last survivor of the thousands of workers who built the Golden Gate Bridge, died at home of natural causes, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. He was 95.

Born in Sausalito, Ashoff graduated from Tam High in 1933 and began working on the bridge in January 1935, the IJ reported.

"It was such a beautiful thing when it was done," Mr. Ashoff told the IJ in 2007 upon the 70th anniversary of the bridge. "It was really windy up there during construction, we had to shut down once in awhile. I am proud to have helped build it. The bridge is a big part of my life."

Ashoff eventually became a toll taker, sergeant and captain on the span before retiring in 1976.

Balestreri got a job doing concrete work on the south tower of the bridge and the San Francisco anchorage for three years, beginning in 1933 at the age of 17, according to the Chronicle.

Ashoff is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and two daughters, Dona and Diane. Private services were held April 18. Balestreri is survived by his wife, Marina of San Francisco, along with a son, three daughters, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Rhonda J. (Smith) McCormick May 02, 2012 at 07:49 AM
So sorry to hear of the passing of the last two bridge builders. They must have been amazed to see how much traffic increased over the years! God bless them. My father, Woodley B. Smith, Jr, of Mill Valley, worked on the building of the Marin side of Waldo Grade, driving one of the huge dump trucks (before my brother and I were born). He and my mom were allowed to cross the bridge the day before it opened, with Joseph Strauss' permission, as they were leaving on a road trip. We heard these stories for many years - wonderful memories! Dad passed away in 1991. We miss you Dad.

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