RUTH BLANCHARD DIES, WAS SURVIVOR OF TITANIC

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RUTH BLANCHARD DIES, WAS SURVIVOR OF TITANIC

Santa Barbara News-Press

Ruth Becker Blanchard, a survivor of the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, died Friday at home in Santa Barbara. She was 90.

Mrs. Blanchard died of complications of a stomach ulcer and old age, said Don Lynch, spokesman for the Titanic Historical Society of Massachusetts and friend of Mrs. Blanchard's.

Mrs. Blanchard, then 12-year-old Ruth Becker, was asleep when the luxury ocean liner struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912.

She became separated from her family but remained calm, Lynch said. She helped bandage a crewman's injured hand and helped distribute blankets to those in shock.

She was one of 705 survivors picked up by another ship, the Carpathia . Her mother, younger brother and sister boarded another lifeboat and also were rescued by the ship. Lynch said her father was not traveling with family.

About 2,200 people were aboard during the maiden voyage of the British steamer, which sank about 2 1/2 hours after hitting the iceberg.

The pride of the Cunard line (sic) was thought to be unsinkable. It was bound from England to New York and, at 882 feet, was then the world's largest ship.

About 18 or 19 Titanic survivors are still alive, Lynch said. Mrs. Blanchard's younger brother Richard died in 1975 and her sister Marion died in 1944.

Mrs. Blanchard rarely shared her harrowing experience until 1982, when she began granting talk-show interviews, Lynch said.

She refrained from any ocean voyages after the Titanic sinking until March of this year, when she went on a cruise to Mexico.

The whereabouts of the sunken Titanic remained a mystery until it was spotted on Sept. 1, 1985. A U.S.-French team using an underwater robot craft found the wreckage about 560 miles southeast of Newfoundland.

Many survivors felt the wreckage should be left untouched out of respect to the victims.

"Mrs. Blanchard definitely felt the site should be left alone," Lynch said. "But she didn't mind that a few artifacts be brought up as long as they would not be sold but displayed in museums."

Mrs. Blanchard was born in Gunter [sic--should be Guntur], India on October 29, 1899 [sic].

Her family settled in Ohio, where she graduated from Wooster College. She married, moved to Kansas and raised three children before teaching grade school in Benton Harbor, Mich. for 20 years. She retired to Santa Barbara in 1971.

She is survived by a daughter, Jeanne Lehman of Santa Barbara; a son, Richard Blanchard of Akumal, Mexico; eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Mrs. Blanchard and her husband divorced about 40 years ago, Lynch said.

Mrs. Blanchard is to be cremated and there will be no public services. Arrangements are being handled by the McDermott-Crockett Mortuary.

Memorial donations may be made to a favorite charity.

Related Biographies:
Ruth Elizabeth Becker

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    Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Thursday 28th August 2003, last updated .