Sunday, May 31, 2009

The end of an era

Well, sort of. Millvina Dean, the last remaining living survivor of the RMS Titanic disaster, has passed away today in her nursing home. She was 97.

LONDON — Millvina Dean, who as a baby was wrapped in a sack and lowered into a lifeboat in the frigid North Atlantic, died Sunday, having been the last survivor of 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic.

She was 97 years old, and she died where she had lived — in Southampton, England, the city her family had tried to leave behind when it took the ship's ill-fated maiden voyage, bound for America.

She died in her sleep early Sunday, her friend Gunter Babler told the Associated Press. It was the 98th anniversary of the launch of the ship that was billed as "practically unsinkable."

Babler said Dean's longtime companion, Bruno Nordmanis, called him in Switzerland to say staff at Woodlands Ridge Nursing Home in Southampton discovered Dean in her room Sunday morning. He said she had been hospitalized with pneumonia last week but she had recovered and returned to the home.

A staff nurse at the nursing home said late Sunday that no one would comment until administrators came on duty Monday morning.

Dean just over 2 months old when the Titanic hit an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912. The ship sank in less than three hours.

Dean was one of 706 people — mostly women and children — who survived. Her father was among the 1,517 who died.[1]

Millvina was one of the survivors who actively took part in the Titanic phenomenon, always reportedly happy to meet with sufferers of the Titanic fever, take part in gatherings and events, and the likes.

It's finally happened: the last living reminder of the most famous seafaring disaster in history has left us. All that's left is the rusting, rotting and slowly collapsing wreck itself, some two-and-a-half miles down on the seabed of the North Atlantic.

[1] Nitpicker's Corner: I do wish people, and especially the media, would stop placing exact casualty and survivor counts on the Titanic disaster. The exact number of the dead, and those who were on board, is simply not known as it was never properly documented anywhere with the myriad of contradictory reports. The death toll is at about 1,500, and there were about 2,200 people on board. The only number we do know for certain, is that there were exactly 705 survivors – not 706 as this report erroneously states.


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