pdf file with images VoyagePalmquistcoverage feature story by David Palmquist from the upcoming Voyage 85.
(copyright David Palmquist and Titanic International Society 2013. Please contact Revdma@aol.com for reprint permissions)
There have been developments about the plaque since the last issue of Voyage. Check these links for the latest on when the plaque will be on public view.
A Stone for Oscar
On Saturday morning, March 28, 1925, Oscar L. Johansson Palmquist, Swedish immigrant and survivor of the R.M.S. Titanic disaster, was missing. The tall, slender toolmaker and machinist had dressed in his best suit, stopped in at his favorite neighborhood barber for a trim, and had departed in good spirits Friday night for a little fun at Walnut Grove, a nearby recreational spot. It had been a long week at the shop and he was looking for a little weekend relaxation.
Something went terribly wrong in the evening hours – something fatal and
mysterious. Oscar met with “misadventure.” Newspapers reported him missing.
Family soon became concerned. There was talk – and rumors. The days passed
with no answers, until one bright April Saturday morning, when two workers at
Beardsley Park found Oscar’s body floating about ten feet from the little island
at the reservoir’s south end. He was identified by papers in his suit pocket, and
insurance policies on his person. Foul play and suicide were quickly ruled out and the case was soon dismissed as an “accidental drowning.” Rev. A. J. Okerblom from the Swedish Evangelical Salem Lutheran Church, where Oscar worshipped, was not satisfied. He felt sure something terrible had befallen Oscar, who was known to avoid water since his narrow escape from Titanic. Okerblom’s protestations came to naught and Oscar was quietly buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport.
Life moved on for the Palmquist family and in time, the shadows of that fateful night closed over the story of Oscar Palmquist. An autopsy was not pursued and no further police action was taken. Over the decades, rough grass closed over the single grave as Oscar’s story faded into history.
Can You Help?
Oscar Palmquist’s story garnered some small attention in 2012 as the 100th
anniversary of Titanic’s sinking approached, but the humble grave remains unmarked. Titanic societies all over the world are now receiving an appeal to contribute to remembering Oscar with a granite grave marker that will record his name, dates, and his presence aboard Titanic in 1912. His tragic and ironic death has captured the imaginations of many: to have survived the terrible night in the North Atlantic, only to be found in a park pond only a few days from the thirteenth anniversary of the sinking of the great liner.
A Barre, Vermont granite marker in 1920s-style pale grey, unpolished stone has been selected at a cost of $1300 with $280 being needed for the stone footing. Mr. Palmquist’s family has been located and is excited to be a part of a memorial dedication ceremony, which will take place on Saturday, June 29 at 11 a.m. in Bridgeport’s Mountain Grove Cemetery. The project has also received the endorsement of the Titanic International Society, and TIS treasurer Robert Bracken has been in close contact with the family. Oscar’s great nephew, Mr. David Palmquist, will be writing an updated biography of his great uncle, which will be published in Voyage and made public on this site at the same time.
Providing a stone will be costly, but with all of us working together, it can be accomplished. TIS President Emeritus Shelley Dziedzic has set up a special account for this purpose, and will oversee cemetery arrangements. Checks in any amount will be greatly appreciated and may be made out to Shelley Dziedzic, P.O. Box 86, North Stonington, CT 06359 USA. Please put “A Stone for Oscar” on the memo line. Alternatively, a Paypal account will receive your donations in U.S. dollar currency. Please use email@example.com as the Paypal “send to” address. Progress on the project will be posted weekly on the Titanic International Society Facebook page, and on its web site, http://www.titanicinternationalsociety.org. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions regarding this effort. A leather-bound booklet of donors will be presented to the family, or you may wish to contribute anonymously.
Please help if you can. We hope many will join us as we pay tribute to this Titanic survivor, whose life ended so tragically.
As long as we remember those who have gone before us, they will live forever.
Millvina’s longtime friend and companion Bruno Nordmanis; Una Reilly of the Belfast Titanic Society; Derek Burke, Lord Mayor of Southampton; Ron Dean, Elva and Paul Gannoway (Millvina’s cousins) and David Hill of the British Titanic Society pause before the plinth at the center of the garden
On the third anniversary of her passing, and the 101st anniversary of Titanic’s launch, the memory of Titanic survivor Millvina Dean was honored on May 31, 2012 by the dedication of the Millvina Dean Memorial Garden, located near the entrance of the new SeaCity Museum in her hometown of Southampton, England.
Millvina Dean Memorial Garden opens in Southampton
By Charles Haas
During a simple, dignified service before Southampton’s civic officials, Millvina’s family members and a crowd of about 40, Millvina’s longtime companion and friend Bruno Nordmanis removed a White Star Line flag to reveal a granite plinth in the center of the oval-shaped garden. Fittingly, the marker’s shape resembles that of the stones for Titanic’s victims in three Halifax cemeteries, but is taller. It bears the inscription:
This garden is dedicated
in memory of
the youngest and final
2 February 1912 – 31 May 2009
“Have a kind heart and
a sense of humour.”
The ceremonies were opened by David Hill of the British Titanic Society, an administrator of the Millvina Fund, which underwrote the project with a sizeable grant, who spoke of Millvina’s vibrant personality. Fellow Fund administrator Una Reilly MBE of the Belfast Titanic Society also offered remarks, and then read a statement from TIS president Charlie Haas, the final Fund administrator, who was unable to attend.
Charlie wrote in part, “…Millvina loved life. To her last days, her vitality, her warm sense of humor, her pragmatism and her joyous philosophy served her well, and endeared her to all. Today, as we dedicate this lovely garden in her memory, we symbolically see some of the elements that made Millvina so special. There are the flowers and plants she knew and loved; benches that encourage conversations and friendships between people; a central pathway that suggests moving on in one’s life, and on the central plinth, her simple yet profoundly reassuring advice to us all, ‘Have a kind heart and a sense of humour,’ engraved in a stone which itself reflects her amazing endurance.
“As was so clearly shown during observances of Titanic’s centennial just six weeks ago, the world shall never forget the Royal Mail Ship Titanic, her passengers and crew. Nor shall we ever forget the remarkable lady named Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean, whose life and love we celebrate today, and for all time.”
David Hill and Una Reilly, administrators of the Millvina Fund, reflect on two years’ work bringing the garden to fruition. TIS President Charlie Haas, also a Millvina Fund administrator, regrettably was unable to attend the dedication ceremonies on May 31, the 101st anniversary of Titanic’s launch, and the third anniversary of Millvina’s passing.
Councillor Derek Burke, the Lord Mayor of Southampton, then officially opened the garden, and The Rev. Dr. Julian Davies, Rector of St. Mary’s Church in Southampton, blessed the garden.
The project was the result of more than two years of close cooperation and planning between the Fund’s three administrators, the Southampton City Council and the city’s Leisure Department. The garden is enclosed in an alternating-green-and-gold privet hedge, and flowering plants designed to touch multiple senses with color, aroma and texture. Curved benches at either end offer places to rest. The garden is bisected by a sidewalk that enjoys frequent foot traffic from those approaching the city’s Civic Centre, where the SeaCity Museum has opened in a new wing, and an adjacent area once occupied by the police department and law courts.
The Millvina Fund originally was intended to assist Millvina with her nursing home costs, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and Titanic director James Cameron joined hundreds from around the world who contributed to the fund. Following Millvina’s passing, and with approval from almost every donor, its purpose was refashioned to fund the garden project.
A green and gold privet hedge and flower beds surround an elliptical open space that includes two restful benches.
(all photos courtesy of David Hill)
Two very unlikely historical events find a common denominator within the Drew Family.
TIS members and their guests going to Belfast for the 2011 convention in May should have received an e-mail from president Charlie Haas that included an attachment of a fine booklet regarding Titanic-related activities in Belfast before, during and after the convention. If members did not receive such an e-mail, you may download the booklet at the link below. Please do send your e-mail address and itinerary to Revdma@aol.com so any last-minute information or announcements can be sent to you before your departure.
Website visitors not planning to visit Belfast are cordially invited to download the booklet using the link above, to see what they may be missing!
Titanicbooklet2011 (pdf file click-on link)