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Millvina Dean (2 February 1912 – 31 May 2009) was the longest-living survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, which occurred on 15 April 1912. At nine weeks of age, she was also the youngest passenger on board the ship.[1]


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[edit] Family

Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean was born in London to Bertram Frank Dean and Georgette Eva Light. She had a brother, Bertram Vere Dean (1910–1992). Dean never married and had no children.[2]

[edit] Titanic voyage

Dean's parents decided to leave England and emigrate to Wichita, Kansas, where her father had family and where he hoped to open a tobacco shop.[3] 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 10 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.

[edit] Return to England

Millvina Dean, right, and her brother Bertram

At first, Dean's mother wanted to continue on to Kansas to fulfil 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.[4]

[edit] 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 remarry, that Dean found out 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.

[edit] Family deaths

Dean's mother died on 16 September 1975, aged 96, and her brother, Bertram, died, aged 81, on 14 April 1992, exactly 80 years to the day after the Titanic struck the iceberg.

[edit] Later years

It was not until Dean 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, Dean 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.[5]

In October 2007, she became the last living Titanic survivor following the death of Barbara West Dainton, who died at the age of 96 in England.

[edit] Doctor Who

In December 2007, Dean criticized the BBC for allegedly poking fun at the tragedy in a Doctor Who Christmas special, "Voyage of the Damned", although she had not seen the programme. 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."[6] 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."[6]

[edit] Ill health and death

In April 2008, Dean 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.[7]

In December 2008, at the age of 96, Dean 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.[8]

The 97-year-old Dean died of pneumonia on the morning of 31 May 2009, the 98th anniversary of the Titanic's launch,[9] at a care home in Ashurst, Hampshire.[1] She had been admitted to the hospital the previous week.[10]

[edit] The Millvina Fund

In response to the escalating cost of Dean'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.[11] 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.[12][13] DiCaprio and Winslet led the way with a joint contribution of US$20,000. Cameron and Dion donated US$10,000 each.

[edit] Notes

  • i The first steerage passenger to escape the ship was Fahim Leeni in Boat 6. Neshan Krekorian and Florence "Kate" Thorneycroft were two fellow steerage passengers who escaped in Boat 10 with the Deans.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b "Last Titantic survivor dies aged 97". BBC News. 31 May 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/8070095.stm. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Sale fails to bail out last Titanic survivor". CNN. 20 April 2009. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/04/20/titanic.auction/index.html. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 
  3. ^ "Mr Bertram Frank Dean - Titanic Biography". Encyclopedia Titanica. http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/biography/769/. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 
  4. ^ "Miss Elizabeth Gladys Dean - Millvina Dean - Biography of the last living Titanic survivor". Encyclopedia Titanica. http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/biography/772/. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "Titanic survivor gets mayoral tribute". Basingstoke Gazette. 7 May 2007. http://www.basingstokegazette.co.uk/search/1380195.Titanic_survivor_gets_mayoral_tribute/. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Doctor Who Slammed By Titanic Survivor". Daily Record. 22 December 2007. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071225083739/http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/entertainment/entertainment-news/2007/12/22/doctor-who-slammed-by-titanic-survivor-86908-20262533/. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 
  7. ^ Keith Hamilton (9 April 2008). "Millvina Dean to miss Titanic commemorations". Southern Daily Echo. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/display.var.2182286.0.millvina_dean_to_miss_titanic_commemorations.php. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 
  8. ^ Linda McKee (6 February 2009). "Titanic sale survivor sells memorabilia". Belfast Telegraph. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/titanic-sale-survivor-sells-memorabilia-14176716.html. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 
  9. ^ Burgess, Kaya (2009-05-31). "Millvina Dean, last remaining survivor of the Titanic, dies aged 97". Times Online. Times Newspapers Ltd. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6401827.ece. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  10. ^ "Last Titanic survivor, a baby put in a lifeboat, dies at 97". Guardian. 2009-06-01. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/01/last-titanic-survivor-dies. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  11. ^ Don Mullan's Nokia exhibit
  12. ^ "Movie stars help Titanic survivor". BBC News. 11 May 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/8044552.stm. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  13. ^ Alison O'Riordan (10 May 2009). "Stars to the rescue as last Titanic survivor struggles to stay afloat". Sunday Independent. http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/independent-woman/celebrity-news-gossip/stars-to-the-rescue-as-last-titanic-survivor-struggles-to-stay-afloat-1734464.html. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 

[edit] External links

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