Maria von Trapp Dies
Maria Franziska von Trapp, whose family’s story was told in The Sound of Music, has died.
She was the last surviving member of the musical family of seven brothers and sisters and passed away in her sleep at home in Vermont at the age of 99 on Tuesday, PEOPLE confirms.
Von Trapp, who was the second-eldest daughter, and her family fled their home in Austria to escape from the Nazis in the 1930s and eventually ended up in the U.S., where their story inspired a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical and the popular 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews.
“Maria had a wonderful life and while we will miss her, the memories of her will live on,” her half-brother, Johannes von Trapp, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. He also thanked fans worldwide for their kind thoughts.
“It was a surprise that she was the one in the family to live the longest because ever since she was a child she suffered a weak heart,” family friend Marianne Dorfer, who runs the von Trapp Villa Hotel in Salzburg, Austria, told the Austrian Times.
Dorfer said that it was because of Maria’s health issue that her father, Baron von Trapp, decided to bring in a governess to teach her and her siblings.
As fans of the film will remember, the widowed baron ended up falling in love and marrying that governess, an aspiring nun whose name was Maria Augusta Kutschera. They went on to have three children, Rosmarie, Eleanore and Johannes.
“As a result of scarlet fever, I was too sickly to walk the three miles to school every day, and the doctor advised that I stay home,” Maria wrote in a post on the website for the family’s lodge in Vermont. “This condition brought Maria Augusta Kutschera to teach me first grade gymnasium … She came to us as my teacher and after three years became our second mother.”