Miss Constance Willard, 20, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 6 June 1890, the daughter of David Willard and Cora Day.1 She had four siblings: Irma (later McCall) (1880-1976), Paul Day (1882-1956), Eugenia (Jean) Florence (1892-1893), and Louis Gray (1894-1896).
In the 1900 U.S. Census it lists the family living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A. David as a lumber Dealer and Cora having no occupation, Irma, Paul, and Constance, are present In this census. In the 1910 U.S.A. Census they are living in Duluth, St Louis, Minnesota, David is listed as retired, and Cora and Constance are listed as jobless.
Miss Willard boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (Ticket Number 113795, £26 11s).
I had been reading in my bed late Sunday night... I had just shut my book when there was a tremendous crash. I sat up in bed. The crash was followed after a moment by a great trembling; then for a moment it was unnaturally quiet because the engines had stopped and with them the vibration. I had a peculiar sensation that something had happened which I had been expecting. I was not in the least alarmed.
I had an uneasy feeling so I thought I’d call the steward. There was no answer when I pushed the bell. I repeated it several times and then I kept it ringing. Finally he came into the room. His face wore a scared expression which struck me as rather funny. He told me I must put on my clothes and get out on deck.
At first, Miss Willard refused to get into a lifeboat, and so an exasperated officer said, "Don't waste time--let her go if she won't get in!" But eventually, Miss Willard got aboard. She was rescued, probably in lifeboat 8 or lifeboat 10.
I finally did get into the fourth from the last to leave the ship. There were only 15 people in the boat I was in and of these there was only one other first-class passenger. The others were five sailors and the balance steerage passengers. I shall never forget the sinking of the Titanic. We had not gone off the Titanic 20 minutes before she went under. The ship was lighted until it disappeared under the waves. Shortly after it had sank the cries of those in the water rent the air. (Duluth News Tribune, Duluth, 9 May, 1912)
In the 1920 US census Constance is listed living with her uncle Eugene Day, Aunt Mabel Day, and grandmother Lavinia Day living at 1540 west 8th street, Riverside, California, U.S.A. She was listed in the 1930 U.S census as a single 39 year old women who was without a job living in Riverside, California, U.S.A and in the 1940 U.S. Census as a retired single women who had completed 1 year of college.
In later life it seems Constance sufferred with mental ilness and was hospitalized at Las Campanas Hospital in California. She was remembered by a staff member as quiet, reserved and 'prematurely aged' with long white hair with several cats which were her sole compainions. When the hospital showed the film A Night to Remember she sat and watched impasssively. She never talekd about the sinking and on the 50th anniversary of the disaster staff at the sanitorium were instructed to avoid the subject and discourage reporters from trying to interview Constance.
Constance Willard never married, she died on 25 April, 1964 in California. Constance Willard was cremated in Compton, California, USA and her ashes were buried at Lakewood cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.2
Her sister Irma McCall died in Long Beach, California in 1976 just short of her 96th birthday.
- David H Willard (1852-1935), son of Andrew Willard and Jane Temple, and Cora Day (1856-1919) daughter of john Wesley Day and Lavinia Gray.
- Her death certificate says she was buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Riverside, California. Possibly this was a temporary measure since the burial in Minnesota did not take place until 10 September 1964.
References and Sources
Minnesota, Births and Christenings, 1840-1980
The Riverside Press (Riverside, California) 27th April, 1964, Death Notice
State Of California Certificate Of Death
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
Andrew Wilson (2011) Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived, ISBN1847377300
Phillip Gowan, USA
Brian Ticehurst, UK
Mike Walton, USA
David R. Willard, USA
Articles and Stories
Unidentified Newspaper (1912)
Chicago Tribune (1912)
Chicago Journal (1912)
Unidentified Newspaper (1912)
Hibbing Daily Tribune (1912)