Lillian Gertrud Asplund, 99, the last survivor of the Titanic who remembered its sinking, died Saturday at her home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Asplund was 5 years old when she and her family boarded the ship in Southampton, England, on their way back to Massachusetts. However, the experience of the voyage would remain etched in the little girl's memory for another 94 years. She remembered the icebergs and the pandemonium, and she also remembered saying good-bye to her father and three brothers - including a fraternal twin. She never saw them again.
Asplund's mother, Selma, and another brother, Felix, who was 3, also survived the Titanic sinking in the early morning of April 15, 1912. The Asplund family had boarded the ship as third-class passengers on their way back to Worcester, Massachusetts, from their ancestral homeland, Sweden, where they had spent several years.
Asplund shunned publicity and lived a quiet life, working as a clerk for an insurance company in Worcester. She rarely talked publicly about the experience although friends report that she was more open in private.
"She told me that she saw her father standing on the Titanic," according to her lawyer, Philip Maloof. "She didn't say specifically that she was in a lifeboat, but she must have been. She even said she saw the ship slip into the water."
Asplund's mother described the sinking in an interview with a Worcester newspaper shortly after the accident, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Selma Asplund said that the family went to the Titanic's upper deck after the ship struck the iceberg. She recalled, "I could see the icebergs for a great distance around ... 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."
At least two other survivors are still living, but they were too young to remember what happened. Barbara Joyce West Dainton of Truro, England, was 10 months old, and Elizabeth Gladys "Millvina" Dean of Southampton, England, was 2 months old.