Millvina Dean

Eliza Gladys "Millvina" Dean (2 February 1912 – 31 May 2009) was a British civil servant, cartographer, and the last survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on 15 April 1912.[1] At two months old, she was also the youngest passenger aboard.[2]

Millvina Dean
Dean in April 1999
Born
Eliza Gladys Millvina Dean

(1912-02-02)2 February 1912
Died31 May 2009(2009-05-31) (aged 97)
Resting placeCremated, ashes scattered in Southampton, Hampshire, UK
OccupationCivil servant, cartographer
Known forYoungest passenger aboard and last remaining survivor of the RMS Titanic

Family

Dean was born in Branscombe, England, on 2 February 1912 to Bertram Frank Dean (1886–1912) and Georgette Eva Light (1879–1975). She had an older brother, Bertram Vere Dean, born 21 May 1910. She never married and had no children.[3] Her father died on the Titanic; her mother died on 16 September 1975, aged 96; and her brother died on 14 April 1992, age 81, the 80th anniversary of the iceberg collision.

Aboard Titanic

Dean's parents decided to leave the United Kingdom and emigrate to the United States; they were planning to move to Wichita, Kansas, where her father had relatives, and his cousin owned a tobacco shop that he was going to co-own.[4] They were not supposed to be aboard the Titanic, but due to a coal strike, they were transferred onto it and boarded it as third-class passengers at Southampton, England. Dean was barely two months old when she boarded the ship. Her father felt its collision with the iceberg on the night of 14 April 1912, and after investigating, returned to his cabin, telling his wife to dress the children and go up on deck. Dean, her mother, and her brother were placed in Lifeboat 10 and were among the first third-class passengers to escape.[i] Her father did not survive, and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Return to the United Kingdom

As was the case with many of Titanic's immigrant widows, Etta Dean surrendered any notion of remaining in the United States once it was clear her husband had not been saved. In the 2000 PBS Documentary Lost Liners, in giving her account of the disaster, Millvina described the state her mother was in during the aftermath of the disaster:

"we stayed in a hospital for two or three weeks for my mother to recover a little bit, and then we came back to England; because we had nothing, we had no clothes, we had no money and of course she was so broken-hearted, she just wanted to get home."

The White Star Line offered Etta and her children passage back to England aboard RMS Adriatic. While aboard the ship, Dean attracted considerable attention. An article in the Daily Mirror dated 12 May 1912 described the ordeal:

Education and careers

Millvina and Bertram were raised mostly on pension funds and educated in Southampton schools, including The Gregg School. It was not until she was eight years old, and her mother was planning to remarry, that Dean was told she had been a passenger on the Titanic.

Dean worked for the British government during the Second World War and later as a purchaser for a local engineering firm. Other jobs she held were as a cartographer, a secretary, and an assistant to a tobacconist.

Later years

It was not until Dean was in her seventies that she became involved in Titanic-related events. Over the years, she participated in numerous conventions, exhibitions, documentaries, radio and television interviews, and personal correspondence. In 1997, Millvina sailed to New York, along with several members of the Titanic Historical Society, aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2). After a few days in New York, Millvina travelled to Kansas City, and visited the house that her uncle owned, and to where her family was going to settle. Several of her uncle's descendants met Millvina for the first time.[6][7] In 1998, she travelled to the United States to participate in a Titanic convention in Springfield, Massachusetts, and another in 1999 in Montreal, Quebec. She had also been scheduled to appear at a commemoration of the 94th anniversary of the sinking in 2006, but a broken hip prevented her appearance.[8] She also appeared in the History special Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces.

Dean, however, staunchly refused to see James Cameron's film Titanic (1997). She recalled having nightmares after seeing A Night to Remember (1958), the film based on Walter Lord's book. Dean could imagine her father as one of the people in the crowd of passengers stranded on the sinking liner, and did not wish to do so. She declined invitations to the premiers of Titanic and Ghosts of the Abyss (2003),[9] and criticised a 2007 episode of the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who about a disaster on a spaceship replica of the RMS Titanic colliding with a meteor as being "disrespectful to make entertainment of such a tragedy".[10]

In October 2007, Dean became the last Titanic survivor following the death of Barbara West Dainton, who died at age 96 in England.[11]

Health issues

In April 2008, Dean had accepted an invitation to speak in Southampton at an event commemorating the 96th anniversary of the sinking, but ill health resulting from a respiratory infection forced her to cancel.[12]

In December 2008, at age 96, Dean was forced to sell several of her family's possessions to pay for her private medical care following a broken hip. These included a letter sent to her mother from the Titanic Relief Fund, and a suitcase given to her and her mother in New York following the sinking. Their sale raised approximately £32,000. In February 2009, she announced that she would be selling several more items to pay for her increasing medical costs which she said exceeded £3,000 a month.[13]

Death

Dean died of pneumonia on the morning of 31 May 2009, 97 years and seven weeks after the Titanic sailed, at a care home in Ashurst, Hampshire.[2][14] She was cremated, and on 24 October 2009, her ashes were scattered from a launch at the docks in Southampton where the Titanic set sail.[15]

The Millvina Fund

In response to the escalating cost of Dean's healthcare, The Millvina Fund was set up in April 2009 by the Belfast, British, and International Titanic Societies with the exclusive aim of taking care of her nursing home bills. It was given a boost by the Irish author and campaigning journalist, Don Mullan, at the opening of his worldwide Nokia photographic exhibition, A Thousand Reasons for Living (featuring a portrait of Dean), in Dublin on 22 April 2009.[16] Mullan introduced an additional portrait of Dean's hands, as she signed a card for a Titanic autograph collector, which he produced as a limited edition of 100 copies. He made the edition available at €500 each and then challenged the director and stars of the film Titanic (1997) James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kate Winslet – singer Celine Dion, and the corporations Sony Music, 20th Century Fox, and Paramount Pictures to match him euro-for-euro to support her with her bills.[17][18] DiCaprio and Winslet led the way with a joint contribution of US$20,000. Cameron and Dion donated US$10,000 each.

See also

Notes

  • i The first third-class passenger to escape the ship was Fahim Leeni in Boat 6. Neshan Krekorian and Florence "Kate" Thorneycroft were two fellow third-class passengers who escaped in Boat 10 with the Deans.

References

  1. "Last Titanic survivor, a baby put in a lifeboat, dies at 97". The Guardian. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  2. "Last Titanic survivor dies aged 97". BBC News. 31 May 2009.
  3. "Sale fails to bail out last Titanic survivor". CNN. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  4. "Mr Bertram Frank Dean – Titanic Biography". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  5. "Miss Elizabeth Gladys Dean – Millvina Dean – Biography of the last Titanic survivor". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  6. "Survivor of Titanic finally makes it to Kansas City". Deseret News. 4 September 1997. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  7. "YOUNGEST TITANIC SURVIVOR FINALLY GETS TO KANSAS CITY". The Washington Post. 20 August 1997. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  8. "Titanic survivor gets mayoral tribute". Southern Daily Echo. 7 May 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  9. "Titanic survivor 'refuses' film invite". BBC News. 15 April 2003.
  10. "Doctor Who Slammed By Titanic Survivor". Daily Record. 22 December 2007. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  11. "One of last Titanic survivors dies in England at age 96". Associated Press. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  12. Keith Hamilton (9 April 2008). "Millvina Dean to miss Titanic commemorations". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  13. Linda McKee (6 February 2009). "Titanic sale survivor sells memorabilia". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  14. Burgess, Kaya (1 June 2009). "Millvina Dean, last remaining survivor of the Titanic, dies aged 97". The Times. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  15. "Ashes of last Titanic survivor scattered". The Belfast Telegraph. 24 October 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  16. "Don Mullan's Nokia exhibit". Nokia.ie. Archived from the original on 24 April 2009.
  17. "Movie stars help Titanic survivor". BBC News. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
  18. Alison O'Riordan (10 May 2009). "Stars to the rescue as last Titanic survivor struggles to stay afloat". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Barbara Dainton
Oldest living survivor of the RMS Titanic
16 October 2007 – 31 May 2009
Last remaining survivor
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