Life can take strange turns. 97 year old Millvina Dean, last survivor of the Titanic, died Sunday at a nursing home in Southampton, England. Millvina was just 9 weeks old that fateful day when Titanic hit an iceberg while making its maiden voyage crossing the North Atlantic. April 14, 1912 proved to be a life altering day for the Dean family.
Millvina, whose real name was Elizabeth Gladys Dean, was lowered down to a lifeboat in a mail sack. Her brother was separated from her mother and her but was reunited with his mother and infant sister aboard the rescue ship, Carpathia.
The father, Bertram Dean, like many grown men on the Titanic, died that night. He had been running a pub in England, and was taking his family for a new life in America. The Deans were headed to Kansas City, Missouri. The father planned to run a tobacco shop for his cousin who has already immigrated.
With the family breadwinner dead, the family survived a week in New York City before returning home. Millvina never mentioned the Titanic because she simply didn’t remember anything about it. However, in 1985 when the Titanic was discovered on the floor of the ocean, off the coast of Newfoundland, she was found. According to the New York Times:
Ms. Dean said all she knew of what happened during the sinking she had learned from her mother: “She told me that they heard a tremendous crash, and that my father went up on deck, then came back down again and said, ‘Get the children up and take them to the deck as soon as possible, because the ship has struck an iceberg.’ ”
Millvina said she never saw the Titanic film. Too emotional she said. The family does not know if her father jumped or if he went down with the ship. The family had been traveling in steerage. When Millvina had trouble meeting nursing home expenses, Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio helped set up a fund to meet expenses, once they found out of her difficulties.