Courtesy of Michael A. Findlay, USA
Mr George Dunton Widener, 50, from Elkins Park, PA, was the son of P.A.B. Widener, a member of the board of the Fidelity Trust Company of Philadelphia, the bank that controlled IMM, the owners of the White Star Line. He was heir to probably the largest fortune in Philadelphia. However, George Widener was a wealthy man in his own right running a successful street-car firm in Philadelphia.
The Widener home in Elkins park, Pennsylvania
Mr Widener and family had been staying at the Paris Ritz Hotel and he, his wife Eleanor Widener, son Harry Elkins Widener and their two servants Edwin Keeping and Emily Geiger boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg. The Widener's occupied cabins C-80/82.
On the afternoon of April 14th, Widener and his wife were standing on the promenade deck talking to J. Bruce Ismay when Captain Smith passed them on his way aft. Without comment he handed Ismay one of the ice warnings from the White Star liner Baltic, Ismay simply put the message in his pocket and headed below.
Later that day Captain Smith joined a dinner party given in his honour by the Wideners in the ship's à la carte restaurant. The guests included, John B. Thayer and Mrs Thayer, Major Archibald Butt, Clarence Moore and William Carter and his wife Lucile Carter. A little before 9pm the Captain excused himself and headed for the bridge. After the ladies had retired the men sat in the smoking room talking. They were still there when the iceberg was struck.
Later, George and Harry escorted Eleanor to lifeboat 4. While the boats continued loading Colonel Archibald Gracie observed George Widener leaning against a railing in deep discussion with John B. Thayer, Mrs Thayer had also boarded boat #4.
As the ship sank deeper the Wideners and Mr Thayer were joined by Charles Duane Williams. All four men died in the disaster.
At the church of St Paul in Elkins Park are two Tiffany Windows in memory of George and Harry Widener. The interior of the church was rebuilt in 1912-13, thanks to Mrs Widener. George was the senior warden at St Pauls and Chair of the Board of Commissioners of Cheltenham Township. Both the Church and The Township presented Resolutions to Mrs Widener.
References and Sources
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy, 2nd ed. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X
Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 14 004757 3
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
Linda Greaves, USA