Julia Child Last years
After the death of her beloved friend Simone Beck, Child relinquished La Peetch after a month long stay in June 1992 with her niece, Phila, and her family. She turned the keys over to Jean Fischbacher's sister, just as she and Paul had promised nearly 30 years earlier. Also, in 1992, she spent a month touring Italy with American journalist Bob Spitz when they struck-up a close friendship. Spitz took notes and made many recordings of his conversations with Child and these later formed the basis of the book he published in 2012 on what would have been Child's 100th birthday. Paul, who was ten years older, died in 1994 after living in a nursing home for five years following a series of strokes in 1989.
In 2001, she moved to a retirement community in Santa Barbara, California, donating her house and office to Smith College, which later sold the house. She donated her kitchen, which her husband designed with high counters to accommodate her formidable height, and which served as the set for three of her television series, to the National Museum of American History, where it is now on display. Her iconic copper pots and pans were on display at COPIA in Napa, California, until August 2009 when they were reunited with her kitchen at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
In 2000, Child received the French Legion of Honour and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000. She was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003. Child also received honorary doctorates from Harvard University, Johnson & Wales University in 1995, her alma mater Smith College, Brown University in 2000, and several other universities.
On August 13, 2004, Julia Child died of kidney failure at her retirement community home, Casa Dorinda, in Montecito, two days before her 92nd birthday. Child ended her last book, My Life in France, with "... thinking back on it now reminds that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite – toujours bon appétit!"