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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lillian Asplund

Lillian Gertrud Asplund, 99, Who Survived the Titanic's Sinking, Is Dead

BOSTON, May 7 (AP) — Lillian Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, died Saturday in Shrewsbury, Mass. She was 99.

Her death was reported by Ronald E. Johnson, vice president of the Nordgren Memorial Chapel, a funeral home in Worcester, Mass.

Ms. Asplund, who was just 5 when she sailed on the Titanic, lost her father and three brothers, including a twin, when the ship went down in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg.

Ms. Asplund's mother, Selma, and another brother, Felix, who was 3, also survived the sinking on the early morning of April 15, 1912.

Ms. Asplund shunned publicity and rarely spoke about the events.

At least two other survivors are living. They are Barbara Joyce West Dainton of Truro, England, who was 10 months old, and Elizabeth G. Dean of Southampton, England, who was 2 months old.

The Asplund family boarded the ship in Southampton as third-class passengers on their way back to Worcester from their ancestral homeland, Sweden, where they had spent several years.

Ms. Asplund's mother described the sinking in an interview with The Worcester Telegram shortly after she and her two children arrived in the city.

Selma Asplund said the family went to the Titanic's upper deck after the ship struck the iceberg.

"I could see the icebergs for a great distance around," she said. "It was cold and the little ones were cuddling close to one another and trying to keep from under the feet of the many excited people.

"My little girl, Lillie, accompanied me, and my husband said 'Go ahead, we will get into one of the other boats.' He smiled as he said it."

Because the family lost all of their possessions and money, the city of Worcester held a fund-raiser and a benefit concert that together brought in about $2,000 for the surviving Asplunds.

Lillian Asplund never married and worked at secretarial jobs in the Worcester area most of her life.

She retired early to care for her mother, who was described as having never recovered from the disaster.

Selma Asplund died on the 52nd anniversary of the sinking in 1964 at age 91. Felix Asplund died on March 1, 1983, at age 73.

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Published: May 8, 2006

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