Millvina Dean

When I was a child I couldn’t get enough of stories about “those in peril on the sea.”

After reading Walter Lord’s “A Night to Remember,” I felt an affinity with every imperiled soul who took that fatal first-and-final voyage on the H.M.S. Titanic.

I devoured everything from Herman Melville to Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer.” Melville’s “Benito Cereno” remains the most chilling story of mutiny ever written.

Those of us who have reached a certain age measure the passage of days by recalling certain historical events in our lifetime and declaring, “I cannot believe it’s been that long!”

Occasionally, a movie will come along that introduces a whole new generation to such events. James Cameron’s “Titanic” was one.

We now mark a passage of time and the final fading of a gilded era with the sad announcement of the death of Millvina Dean.

Millvina (2 February 1912 – 31 May 2009) was the last survivor of the sinking of the Titanic that fateful night of 15 April 1912.

She was two months old when she and her mother were rescued. Her father - a handsome, moustached young gentleman - drowned. I remember crying when Robert Ballard, scientist emeritus of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, presented Millvina with her father’s gold pocket watch, salvaged from the ship’s wreckage.

Reportedly, the stars of Cameron’s “Titanic” provided funds for nursing home care in Millvina’s last years.

Even with her death, there can be no closure to a story that will never die.

Rest in peace, Millvina.


As I finish typing this post, there is breaking news that an Air France jetliner en route from Rio de Janiero to Paris has disappeared from radar over the Atlantic - with 228 souls aboard.


“Eternal Father, strong to save
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep,
Oh, hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea.”


Good Southern Man said...

What a beautiful tribute. Your writing never ceases to amaze me. I start reading and find myself transported until the end. We seem to only get information from newspapers these days but I get art from you. Thanks BJ!

I also cannot read the navy words without hearing the music so here is a link to a youtube post of the hymn being sung with nice pictures shown during the song.


Patrick said...

The Lasting Tribute website has updated its memorial pages to include Millvina Dean.


It's a respectful memorial to her and somewhere to pay tribute to her family's fortitude at this difficult time.

EVERY comment is monitored so that nothing offensive or inappropriate is published.

Recks Read said...

I just stumble across your site. Nice writing indeed. Touching.

airth10 said...

About "wit hits' and it entry of 'The Mellowing of William Jefferson Clinton', he really has mellowed, as witness in Toronto.

He has mellowed enough to go on the road with George Bush, on speaking engagements.

Bill Sumrall said...

Lovely tribute. And I recall noting the song when I watched "Titanic" too.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute to a very lovely lady. The military will always tug at my heart.

May Millvina Dean have a great homecoming with all those near and dear to her heart.