Lillian Gertrud Asplund
The last American survivor of the sinking of RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912
Lilian was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Carl and Selma Asplund, immigrants from Sweden. In 1907, her grandfather passed away in Sweden. Her father, as executor of his estate, decided the family should return to Alseda, Sweden to settle the estate, manage the farm and care for Lillian's grandmother. After nearly five years, the family decided to return home. (1)
On April 10, 1912, Lillian, her parents and four brothers boarded Titanic at Southampton, England. When Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 pm on the night of April 14, 1912, Lillian's father woke and rushed his family to the main deck. Lillian, her mother and brother Felix were loaded into Lifeboat No. 15. Her father and remaining brothers stayed on the ship.
In interviews with Lilian later in life she recalled, “my mother said she would rather stay with him [my father] and go down with the ship, but he said the children should not be alone. [My mother] had Felix on her lap and she had me between her knees. I think she thought she could keep me a little warmer that way." (2)
Lillian, her mother and brother were rescued by RMS Carpathia. Lillian's father and brothers Filip, Clarence and Carl perished in the sinking. Carl, Sr.'s body was recovered and was later buried in All Faiths Cemetery in Worcester. (3)
Lillian's mother never recovered from the loss and refused to discuss the disaster with anyone, saying that it was simply wrong to do so. Selma died on April 15, 1964, the 52nd anniversary of the sinking.
Lillian died in her home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, on May 6, 2006 at the age of 99. She was buried at the Old Swedish Cemetery in Worcester, aside her father, mother, and brother. After her death, her steamship ticket was found in a safety deposit box, along with her father’s pocket watch, frozen at 2:19 am. (4)
(1) Microfilm images from archives of UK-bound passenger lists, accessed through Ancestry.com
(2) David Brown, The Last Witness (The Washington Post, July 30, 2006)
(3) Staff Reports, Lillian Asplund, 99; Last U.S. Survivor of Titanic's Sinking (Los Angeles Times, 2006)
(4) Ben Hazell, Titanic survivor's secrets revealed (2008)