Ruth Becker

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Ruth Becker Blanchard
Ruth Becker.jpg
Ruth Becker as a girl, ca. 1912
Born Ruth Elizabeth Becker
(1899-10-28)October 28, 1899
Guntur, Madras Presidency, British India (now in Andhra Pradesh, India)
Died July 6, 1990(1990-07-06) (aged 90)
Santa Barbara, California
Spouse(s) Daniel Blanchard
Parents Allen Oliver Becker
Nellie E. Baumgardner

Ruth Elizabeth Becker (October 28, 1899 – July 6, 1990) was one of the last remaining survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912.[1]

Early life[edit]

She was born on October 28, 1899 in Guntur, India, to American Lutheran missionary Allen Oliver Becker and his wife Nellie E. Baumgardner. A younger brother, Luther, was born in Lima, Ohio, in March 1905, but died in Guntur just before his second birthday on February 7, 1907. In December 1907, Nellie gave birth to a second daughter, Marion Louise, and a son, Richard, was born in June 1910 at Kodaikanal.[2][3][4]

In early 1912, Richard contracted an illness in India, and Nellie decided to take him and their two daughters to Benton Harbor, Michigan to seek treatment for him. Allen was expected to join his family the following year.

Titanic[edit]

Twelve-year-old Becker boarded the Titanic along with her mother Nellie, four-year-old sister Marion and 22-month-old brother Richard as second-class passengers on April 10, 1912 at Southampton, England. Shortly after the ship's collision with the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, Ruth recalled that a steward told her mother, "We've had a little accident. They're going to fix it, and then we'll be on our way."[2] Realizing that the ship was seriously damaged, Nellie took her children up to the boat deck, but she told Ruth to go back to her cabin and get blankets.

Junior Officer James Moody helped load Marion and Richard into lifeboat 11, but wouldn't let Nellie in. It was only after pleading with a steward that Moody finally consented, but Ruth was not allowed in. Her mother then screamed to Ruth telling her to get in another lifeboat. Boat 11 was one of the few that was overloaded.[5] Ruth later got tossed into lifeboat 13 by Officer Moody.

Nellie and her three children were all picked up by the rescue ship RMS Carpathia. Although it was a struggle to find her mother on the ship, Ruth finally did. They arrived in New York City on April 18. Soon after their arrival, the Beckers took a train to Benton Harbor, Michigan. Nellie's husband Allen finished his missionary work in India and joined his wife and children in 1913.

Ruth Becker and her family were among the 705 survivors.

Career and marriage[edit]

Becker attended high school in Ohio. She graduated from Wooster College and became a high school teacher in Kansas, later going on to teach grade school in Benton Harbor. She married a former classmate, Daniel Blanchard, and had three children but after twenty-three years of marriage, the two divorced.

Later life[edit]

In the years following the disaster, Becker refused to talk about her experiences aboard the Titanic and her own children, when young, did not know that she had been on board. After she retired from teaching and had moved to Santa Barbara, California, Ruth began speaking more openly.[2]

In 1982, Becker joined several other survivors at a Titanic Historical Society convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania commemorating the 70th anniversary of Titanic's sinking. She would attend two more conventions in 1987 and in 1988. In March 1990, Ruth made her first sea voyage since 1912 when she went on a cruise to Mexico.[2]

Death[edit]

Ruth died on July 6, 1990 under the name "Ruth Becker Blanchard" in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 90. She was cremated and on April 16, 1994 her ashes were spread over the exact spot in the Atlantic Ocean where the Titanic had sunk eighty-two years prior.[2][6] Frank Goldsmith and Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall also had their remains scattered over the Titanic's final resting place.[2][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robbins, William (April 18, 1982). "Screams, Then Sea's Silence, Still Haunt 5 Survivors Of Titanic.". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-11. "Out of a night so cold that ice crystals formed whiskers around the lights, as old sailors put it, over the dark waters and across 70 years, the screams still haunt these five survivors, aging men and women for whom the nightmare of the sinking of the Titanic is ..." 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Ruth Elizabeth Becker". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2008-04-11. "Mrs Allen Oliver Becker (Nellie E. Baumgardner), 36, boarded the Titanic at Southampton. she was travelling with her children Ruth, Richard and Marion from Guntur, India to Benton Harbour, Michigan." 
  3. ^ The Hindu: The Titanic survivors from Guntur
  4. ^ "Nellie E. Becker". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2008-04-11. "Miss Ruth Elizabeth Becker, 12, boarded the Titanic at Southampton. She was travelling with her mother Nellie, brother Richard and sister Marion from India to Benton Harbour, Michigan." 
  5. ^ Wormstedt, Bill; Fitch, Tad (2011). "An Account of the Saving of Those on Board". In Halpern, Samuel. Report into the Loss of the SS Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal. Stroud, UK: The History Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-7524-6210-3.  — Boat 11 was lowered with an estimated 70 aboard, having a capacity of 65.
  6. ^ "Ruth Blanchard Dies.". Santa Barbara News-Press. July 8, 1990. Retrieved 2008-04-11. "Ruth Becker Blanchard, a survivor of the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, died Friday at home in Santa Barbara. She was 90." 
  7. ^ "Titanic Today: Exhibition of Titanic Artifacts - The Salvage Controversy". Retrieved 2008-06-02. "On April 16, 1994, the ashes of Titanic survivor Ruth Becker Blanchard were cast over the area by a USCG chaplain, where they will join Fourth Officer Boxhall and Frank Goldsmith, also Titanic survivors who requested they be returned to the sea where hundreds of people perished." 

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