William Seegers, 106, a former German soldier who was believed to be the last World War I veteran living in California, died July 10 in Richmond, Bay Area newspapers reported.
Born Oct. 24, 1900, Seegers was the second of five siblings in a family of poor socialists. He was drafted into the German army at 17 but quickly found that military life didn't mesh with socialist politics.
He deserted but soon joined another unit after learning that the German army was executing captured deserters.
Seegers never saw active combat during the war and survived a series of health problems including the pandemic of Spanish flu in 1918 and 1919 that killed more than 50 million people worldwide.
After the war, he immigrated to the United States, living for a time in a socialist colony in Louisiana where he learned the printing trade.