You may have heard today that the last living survivor of the Titanic, Millvina Dean, died Sunday at the age of 97, in Southhampton, the English port from which the giant ocean liner embarked on its fateful maiden voyage in April 1912.
Dean was only nine weeks old, the ship's youngest passenger, when the Titanic struck an iceberg in waters off Newfoundland. The disaster claimed more than 1,500 lives. According to the Guardian of London, Dean's parents decided to leave England for America, where her father and hoped to open a tobacco shop in Kansas City.
The infant child, one of 705 survivors, was lowered into lifeboat No. 10 in a canvas mail sack that night of April 14. Her mother and brother were placed in the same lifeboat and later rescued by the Carpathia. Dean's 29-year-old father, who ran a pub in London, remained aboard.
Ms. Dean died, on the 98th annivesary of the ship's launching, without ever having seen the movie , which she attributed to reluctance to be reminded of what happened to her father. "It would have made me think, did he jump overboard or did he go down with the ship? she said. "It would have been very emotional."
As for her own survival, she said that as a "very down-to-earth-person," she had little time for the metaphysical speculation urged on her over the years about why fate, or divine providence, had chosen her to survive the sinking as an infant, then allowed her to outlive everyone else who escaped.
"Heaven and hell -- how can you believe in something up in the sky? she said. Then, smiling again, she added, "Still, I'd loved to be proved wrong."
There were several passengers from St. Louis who also made and survived the perilous voyage, including Elisabeth Walton Allen. The daughter of a city judge, she was 29 at the time and returning home to St. Louis with her aunt, Elisabeth Walton Robert, and 15-year-old cousin, Georgette Alexandra Madill -- both from St. Louis.
Ms. Walton Allen, according to Encylopedia Titantica, was engaged in 1912 to a British doctor and was coming back St. Louis to fetch her belongings before moving to England.
As far as the disaster, Allen penned this harrowing account:
"As the Titanic plunged deeper and deeper we could see her stem rising higher and higher until her lights began to go out. As the last lights on the stern went out we saw her plunge distinctively, bow fist and intact. Then the screams began and seem to last eternally. We rowed back, after the Titanic was under water, toward the place where she had gone down, but we saw no one in the water, nor were we near enough to any other lifeboats to see them...
"Our boat was the first one picked up by the Carpathia. I happened to be the first one up the ladder, as the others seemed afraid to start up, and when the officer who received me asked where the Titanic was, I told him she had gone down."
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