Millvina Dean signing autographs at the Titanic Convention in Southampton in April 1999
|Born||Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean
2 February 1912
Branscombe, Devon, England
|Died||31 May 2009
Ashurst, Hampshire, England
Cause of death
|Known for||Youngest passenger aboard the Titanic
Last remaining survivor of the Titanic
|Parents||Bertram Frank Dean
Georgette Eva Light
|Relatives||Bertram Vere Dean (brother)|
Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean (2 February 1912 – 31 May 2009) was a British civil servant and cartographer, best known for being the last remaining survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, which occurred on 15 April 1912. At 2 months old, she was also the youngest passenger aboard.
Millvina Dean was born in Branscombe, England, to Bertram Frank Dean (1886-1912) and Georgette Eva Light (1879-1975). She had a brother, Bertram Vere Dean, born 21 May 1910. Millvina Dean never married and had no children. Dean's father died on the Titanic; her mother died on 16 September 1975, aged 96; and her brother Bertram Vere died, age 81, on 14 April 1992, the eightieth anniversary of the sinking.
Millvina Dean's parents decided to leave England and emigrate to Wichita, Kansas, where her father had family and his cousin owned a tobacco shop that her father was going to co-own. The Deans were not supposed to be aboard the Titanic, but owing to a coal strike, they were transferred to the ship and boarded it as third-class passengers at Southampton, England. Dean was barely two months old when she boarded the ship. Her father felt the ship's 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 brother were placed in Lifeboat 13 and were among the first steerage passengers to escape the sinking oceanliner.[i] Her father, however, did not survive, and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
Return to England
At first, Dean's mother wanted to continue on to Kansas to fulfill her husband's wish of a new life in the United States. However, after losing her husband and being left with two small children for whom to care, they returned to England aboard the RMS Adriatic. While aboard the ship, Dean attracted considerable attention. An article in the Daily Mirror dated 12 May 1912 described the ordeal:
|“||[She] was the pet of the liner during the voyage, and so keen was the rivalry between women to nurse this lovable mite of humanity that one of the officers decreed that first and second class passengers might hold her in turn for no more than ten minutes.||”|
Education and careers
Millvina and Bertram Dean 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 marry again, 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 careers she held were as a cartographer, a secretary, and an assistant to a tobacconist.
It was not until Millvina was in her seventies that she became involved in Titanic-related events. Over the years, she participated in numerous conventions, exhibitions, documentaries, television and radio interviews, and personal correspondence. In 1998, Millvina travelled to the United States to participate in a Titanic convention in Springfield, Massachusetts, and another in 1999 in Montreal. She had also been scheduled to appear at a commemoration of the Titanic's 94th anniversary in 2006, but a broken hip prevented her appearance. She also appeared in the History special Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces.
In December 2007, Dean criticized the BBC and its television program Doctor Who for including an episode with a starship "cruise liner" called the Titanic similar in appearance to the historical liner. Speaking from her nursing home, she said: "The Titanic was a tragedy which tore so many families apart. I lost my father and he lies on that wreck. I think it is disrespectful to make entertainment of such a tragedy." A spokeswoman for the show said: "No offence was intended. 'Voyage of the Damned' is set on a spaceship called The Titanic and not a boat."
Ill health and death
In April 2008, Millvina had accepted an invitation to speak in Southampton at an event commemorating the 96th anniversary of the ship's sinking, but ill health resulting from a respiratory infection forced her to cancel.
In December 2008, at the age of 96, Millvina was forced to sell several of her family's possessions to pay for her private medical care following a broken hip. These possessions 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 ship's 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.
The Millvina Fund
In response to the escalating cost of Millvina'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 Dean's nursing home bills. The Fund 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 Millvina Dean) in Dublin on 22 April 2009. 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; James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, singer Celine Dion, and the corporations Sony Music, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures to match him euro-for-euro to support Dean with her bills. DiCaprio and Winslet led the way with a joint contribution of US $20,000. Cameron and Dion donated US $10,000 each.
- Adella Wotherspoon, last survivor of the General Slocum disaster.
- Grace Hanagan, last survivor of the Empress of Ireland disaster.
- Audrey Pearl, last survivor of the Lusitania disaster.
- Last Titanic survivor, a baby put in a lifeboat, dies at 97 The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2012
- "Last Titantic survivor dies aged 97". BBC News. 31 May 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- ion/index.html "Sale fails to bail out last Titanic survivor". CNN. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- "Mr Bertram Frank Dean - Titanic Biography". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- "Miss Elizabeth Gladys Dean - Millvina Dean - Biography of the last Titanic survivor". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- "Titanic survivor gets mayoral tribute". Basingstoke Gazette. 7 May 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- "One of last Titanic survivors dies in England at age 96". Associated Press. November 8, 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Doctor Who Slammed By Titanic Survivor". Daily Record. 22 December 2007. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- Keith Hamilton (9 April 2008). "Millvina Dean to miss Titanic commemorations". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- Linda McKee (6 February 2009). "Titanic sale survivor sells memorabilia". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- Burgess, Kaya (1 June 2009). "Millvina Dean, last remaining survivor of the Titanic, dies aged 97". The Times. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
- "Ashes of last Titanic survivor scattered". The Belfast Telegraph. 24 October 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
- Don Mullan's Nokia exhibit
- "Movie stars help Titanic survivor". BBC News. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
- Alison O'Riordan (10 May 2009). "Stars to the rescue as last Titanic survivor struggles to stay afloat". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- Miss Elizabeth Gladys 'Millvina' Dean - Encyclopedia Titanica biography
- Millvina Dean - Daily Telegraph obituary
- AP Obituary from The Times
- The Millvina Fund
- Radio Interview with Millvina Dean Courtesy of KYKY-FM, St. Louis, Missouri, 1997.
- Titanic Survivor gets Mayoral Tribute Southern Daily Echo, 7 May 2007
- Millvina Dean Remembrance Thread at Encyclopedia Titanica.com
- Video Interview with Millvina Dean, aged 97 on StoryVault
|Oldest living survivor of the RMS Titanic
16 October 2007 – 31 May 2009
|Last remaining survivor|