Millvina Dean was only a baby during the sinking of the Titanic. Lowered into a lifeboat on the cold morning of April 15, 1912, she was one of the youngest people on the Titanic and the last Titanic survivor to die. She passed away at age 97 and died in Southampton, England where she had lived her whole life in May of 2009. Her family tried to escape the town by sailing on the Titanic to America to create a new life when the tragedy struck.
Being only 2 months old during the Titanic disaster, Dean has no recollection of the event, but her mother told her the story when she was 8. The events told were so horrible that she (her mother) vowed never to speak of the event. Her mother suffered from headaches ever since the event. Her father Bertram had stayed behind along with 1,500 other passengers and crew members and had gone down with the ship.
Knowing her place in history and its importance, Dean was eager to share her story with others, especially children.
The Dean family was not scheduled to travel on the Titanic, but rather another ship owned by White Star Line. A national coal strike led to its cancellation and they were placed on the Titanic as an alternative as third class passengers. The family was awakened by a jolt when the ship sideswiped the iceberg that buckled the hull of the Titanic. Her father went to see what was wrong and returned to tell his wife to dress the children warmly and take them to the lifeboat deck. After she and her mother, Georgetta, 32, and her brother Bertram, 23 months old, were put into lifeboats, her father assured them that he would be along shortly, but died after the Titanic sank into the Atlantic.
Dean, her mother, and her brother sailed to New York on the Carpatia and spent several weeks in the hospital. They then went home to England sailing on the Adriatic. Dean knew that the sinking of the Titanic would change her life dramatically and knew that if it weren’t for the tragic event that she would be American. After the disaster Dean attended secretarial school and moved to London as a mapmaker for the British Army. She returned to Southampton and was a secretary for an engineering firm. She lived in a house in nearby New Forest and never married.
Dean may have gone her entire life without telling anyone that she was a passenger on the Titanic. She ignored the books, movies, and websites pertaining to the wreck until her anonymity was ended in 1987. She attended a memorial service in Southampton on the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Titanic historian and author Don Lynch invited her to speak at a Titanic Historical Society convention in Boston the following year.
Before her death, she arranged for a London auction house to sell some of her Titanic memorabilia to help pay for her nursing home fees. The sale raised $53,906. Dean’s mother died in 1975 at 95, her brother died in 1992 on the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, he was 81. Millvina Dean was possibly the youngest survivor on the Titanic and her death marks the death of the last Titanic survivor.