May 23, 2006 by

Lillian Gertrud Asplund

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Categories: Extraordinary People

Lillian “Lillie” Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the Titanic disaster, died in her sleep on May 6. She was 99.
Born in 1906, Lillie Asplund was just 5 years old on April 15, 1912, when the Titantic hit an iceberg off Newfoundland and sank into the North Atlantic. Her father, Charles, and three brothers, Filip, 13, Clarence, 9, and her fraternal twin Carl, 5, all drowned that day. Lillie’s mother, Selma, and her 3-year-old brother Felix survived the accident on lifeboat No. 15, and were brought to New York City after being rescued by the Carpathia.
The Asplund family, which had been visiting a fraternal grandmother in Sweden, boarded the “practically unsinkable” White Star Liner as third-class passengers in Southampton, England. Although the bodies of her brothers were never found, Lillie’s father was later shipped back to the U.S. for burial at All Faiths Cemetery in Worcester, Mass. The remaining Asplunds lost all of their possessions and life savings aboard the doomed ship. In response to their plight, the city of Worcester held a fundraiser and a benefit concert and gave nearly $2,000 for the family.
Lillie lived in the Worcester area for most of her life. She enjoyed gardening and watching soap operas, and worked as a secretary for many years, but retired early to care for her elderly mother. Selma never recovered from her grief and died on April 15, 1964, the 52nd anniversary of the Titanic sinking. Felix died in 1983.
Of the more than 700 people who survived the Titanic disaster, Lillie was the last to actually recall watching the ship’s descent into the sea. Two other survivors — Barbara Joyce West Dainton of Truro, England and Elizabeth Gladys “Millvina” Dean of Southampton, England — are still living, but were too young to remember the event. More than 1,500 people perished in the sinking of the world’s largest passenger liner.

4 Responses to Lillian Gertrud Asplund

  1. Amanda Rossenbach

    May everyone not mourn her death but rejoice in her life that she lived and rejoice in the fact that she is now with her parents and siblings. She is in a much better place.

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