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‘Her body and spirit were too weak’: 97-year-old woman dies weeks after eviction notice

Marie Hatch sits in front of her home of 66 years in this undated photo. (Lisa Krieger/Handout via Reuters)
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Weeks ago, 97-year-old Marie Hatch received an eviction notice, informing her she had to leave the suburban San Francisco house where she lived for the last 66 years.

Friends and neighbors — and a high-powered law firm — became her advocates, and her plight received national media attention.

Efforts were underway to stop Hatch’s eviction when she was sickened by a respiratory virus.

After a brief hospitalization, Hatch died at home Thursday night, one of her attorneys confirmed to The Post.

Hatch, who was battling cancer and had agoraphobia, died from apparent natural causes after a severe cold, family friends told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It’s so sad — we will miss Marie,” Hatch’s next door neighbor Cheryl Graczewski told the Chronicle. “She was a real sweetheart. There was a lot of spirit in that woman.”

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Hatch, a retired bakery worker, had lived in the two-bedroom cottage in Burlingame for decades with her roommate, 85-year-old Georgia Rothrock. The notice came on Feb. 11 to move within 60 days or face eviction by sheriff’s deputies from the $1.2 million home in a Northern California neighborhood where property values and rents have skyrocketed.

“They’re trying to take away everything from me here,” Hatch told the Chronicle last month. “Gee whiz, I don’t know what I’ll do if I have to leave.”

She added: “I have a lot of tears, a lot of happiness, a lot of memories in this house. It is my home. Where can I go?”

Marie Hatch is being evicted from the San Francisco home she's lived in for more than six decades. (Video:

Neighbor Lisa Krieger suggested an assisted living facility as an alternative for Hatch. But, Krieger told The Post last month, she received a typical response.

“She says she’d rather go across the street to the train tracks,” Krieger said at the time. “Meaning, she’ll let a train hit her.”

“She’s feisty and she’s strong,” Krieger added. “She’s already survived cancer once.”

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But the 97-year-old “was unable to fight off the respiratory virus that landed her in the hospital a couple of days ago,” Krieger wrote in an update to the fundraising page she started to help Hatch. “She was at home with her son when she died. She has been through a lot since February 11, and her body and spirit were too weak to sustain her.”

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy took on Hatch’s case pro-bono and last week filed a lawsuit in Mateo County Superior Court for breach of contract and elder abuse.

“There is no doubt that the callous eviction of Marie Hatch has caused her death,” one of the firm’s attorneys, Nancy Fineman, said in a statement sent to The Post on Friday.

The suit filed last week claims that six decades ago, Vivian Kroeze, whose husband had died, asked Hatch to move in with her for companionship and help. In exchange, Kroeze promised, according to the suit, that Hatch could live in the house until her dying days. After Kroeze’s own death, the woman’s daughter and granddaughter kept that promise.

But in 2006, the granddaughter, Pamela Kantz, was in the middle of a divorce when her boyfriend killed her. Kantz’s estranged husband, David Kantz, assumed the role as Hatch’s landlord.

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“We have come to this unexpected confluence of events, and I am responsible to do the best I can for the beneficiaries — my sons,” Kantz told the Chronicle last month. “I just kind of inherited this property and the assumptions that weren’t really written down, and now I have to unwind it.”

He told the newspaper that he first informed Hatch of the eviction in December. “There is no one part of this whole thing I don’t feel bad about,” he told the paper. “I feel bad for the elderly lady, I feel bad for my sons, I feel bad for me.”

Fineman, one of Hatch’s attorney, said “the legal battle will continue” on behalf of Rothrock, who’s lived in the house for 36 years, the Hatch family and “everyone who knew and loved her.”