October 21, 1906|
|Died||May 6, 2006
|Parents||Carl Asplund and Selma Johansson|
|Relatives||Filip, Clarence, Carl (twin) and Felix Asplund|
Lillian Gertrud Asplund (October 21, 1906 – May 6, 2006) was one of the last three living survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. She was the last American survivor, and also the last survivor with actual memories of the disaster.
Lillian Asplund was born on October 21, 1906 in Worcester, Massachusetts to a Swedish immigrant family father Carl Oscar Vilhelm Gustafsson Asplund and mother Selma Augusta Emilia Johansson. Her parents had lived briefly in Missouri prior to settling in Massachusetts. Lillian had a twin brother, Carl Edgar, and two older brothers; Filip Oscar, born in 1898 and Clarence Gustaf Hugo, born in 1902. A fourth brother, Edvin Rojj 'Felix', was born in 1909.
In 1907, Lillian's father had taken his family to Småland, Sweden to help his widowed mother settle problems with the family farm. By early 1912, the family was ready to return to the United States, and Lillian's father booked passage for his family aboard the Titanic.
Lillian, her parents and 4 brothers boarded the Titanic at Southampton, England on April 10, 1912 as third-class passengers. Lillian was five years old at the time and recalled that the Titanic "was very big, and it had just been painted. I remember not liking the smell of fresh paint."
When the Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 pm on the night of April 14, 1912, Lillian's father woke his sleeping family and then put all important papers, including cash, into his pocket. Lillian, her mother and brother, Felix, were loaded into Lifeboat No. 15. Lillian later recalled, "my mother said she would rather stay with him [my father] and go down with the ship, but he said the children should not be alone. [My mother] had Felix on her lap and she had me between her knees. I think she thought she could keep me a little warmer that way." She later described the ship sinking as a big building going down.
Lillian, her mother and brother were rescued by the RMS Carpathia, which had arrived at the scene shortly after four o'clock in the morning. Lillian and her brother were loaded into burlap bags and hoisted to the Carpathia's deck. Once on the Carpathia, Lillian remembered:
A woman took all my clothes off me. My clothes had gotten very dirty and wet in the lifeboat. My mother was trying to find me. She was saying, 'I have a daughter!' Well, she found me. And eventually my clothes were dry, and I put them back on. They took us, the children, to the place where they take people who are sick. Well, not sick, but people who needed a little more attention. The people on the Carpathia were very good to us."
The Carpathia arrived in New York City, New York on April 18 and Lillian's mother took her and her brother to Worcester shortly thereafter. Lillian's father and brothers, Filip, Clarence and Carl, perished in the sinking.
In the confusion after the disaster, a Worcester newspaper reported that both Mr. and Mrs. Asplund had been saved, along with Clarence, Lillian and Felix, and that Filip and Carl had drowned. A later report said that Selma and her "two babies" had been taken to a local hospital, and that Mr. Asplund and Clarence were apparently at another location. A final report confirmed that neither Carl, Sr. nor Clarence were among the survivors. Carl, Sr.'s body was recovered by CS Mackay-Bennett and was later buried in All Faiths Cemetery in Worcester.
Lillian's mother refused to discuss the disaster with anyone, saying that it was simply wrong to do so. Lillian agreed and throughout the rest of her life hardly ever spoke of the disaster. Lillian's mother died on April 15, 1964, the 52nd anniversary of the sinking, and her brother, Felix, with whom Lillian lived, died on March 15, 1983.
Lillian died in her home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts on May 6, 2006 at the age of 99; she would have been 100 on October 21. She was buried in All Faiths Cemetery in Worcester alongside her father, mother, and brother.
Lillian's death left two living Titanic survivors, Barbara West and Millvina Dean; however, both were less than a year old at the time of the sinking and neither had any recollection of it. She was the last survivor who remembered the sinking first hand, having been five years old at the time.
After her death, the steamship ticket she had held for so many years was sold at auction.
- AP. "Titanic ticket belonging to last U.S. survivor auctioned", Daily News (New York). April 19, 2008.
- Brown, David (July 30, 2006). "The Last Witness". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- "Two of the Asplund Children are Lost". Worcester Telegram. April 19, 1912. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
- "Mrs Asplund and children safe in hospital at N.Y.". Worcester Evening Gazette. April 19, 1912. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
- "Four of the Asplunds are Titanic Victims". Worcester Telegram. April 20, 1912. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
- Lillian Gertrud Asplund, 99, Who Survived the Titanic's Sinking, Is Dead
- Recalling the Last Titanic Survivor
- Final American survivor of Titanic disaster dies (includes photo of Asplund)
Winnifred van Tongerloo
|Oldest living survivor of the RMS Titanic
July 4, 2002 – May 6, 2006