Gretchen Longley and a Fortune sister

Mike Poirier

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I came across an interview with Gretchen Longley Leopold in later years. She contacted the Rank Organization in order to find one of the Fortune sisters. Gretchen said this one sister had separated from her family and was in a lifeboat with her and did not leave with her mothers and sisters. They stayed friends for awhile, but lost touch. My question... What Fortune sister did not stay with her family?
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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Well, according to the Hustak book, it was Ethel who was separated from the family for a while. The book makes it sound like Ethel did end up getting into the same boat as her mother and sisters, but I'm not surprised to learn this might not have been the case. Details of the Fortune women's escape - including exactly which boat they were in - have always been especially sketchy. Some sources put them in 10 (the boat with Longley) and some put them in 7.

I've always hoped it wasn't 7. It would make Charles Fortune's death all the more tragic if his sisters left in a boat that was taking men.

Thanks for sharing this, Michael. It's an interesting and touching footnote all around. Did the interview mention if they reconnected?
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi Brian-
Wow- I havent looked at Hustak's book in years. I should have.
Code:
29209
Thanks for looking that up. Yes, details were always sketchy about their movements. Didn't one of the sisters go below to find something or someone... Jewelry perhaps. I think I read that somewhere.

The article was more of a plea for assistance from Gretchen. I dont know what the outcome was. Curiously, Gretchen said she was in boat 4... But considering this interview was over 40 years later, I can see where she forgot.
Mike
 

Brian Ahern

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As the book tells it, Ethel was on deck with her sisters before deciding there was no danger and heading back to her cabin. A steward came along and told her her mother had gone up on deck, and so Ethel hurried and caught the boat just as it was leaving. I'm not sure if the book specifically says "the boat" carried her sisters and mother, but it made it sound like it.
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi Brian-
Ah it is starting to come back to me. I wonder, if it was Ethel with Gretchen, what made her go to the opposite side of the ship? And also, food for thought, could it be with one missing sister, that Charles and Mark stayed aboard to search for her, not that they didnt want to get in the boat.

I remember Alan Hustak did a number of articles on the Canadians for Voyage magazine. Do you belong to TIS? You might have the same issues if you do. I can't remember if he included the Fortunes in the articles.

Mike
 

Brian Ahern

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The same thing entered my head about Ethel's absence indirectly causing her father and brother's demise. What a horrible thought!

I've been meaning to join the societies for a long time. I think part of what's subconsciously holding me back is fear of joining them and becoming aware of the vastness of the information and resources I've deprived myself of by not joining years ago. Of course it's worth it, and I believe back issues of many of the publications are available.
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi Brian-

It's a scary thought. Certain people could have survived had it not been for that. More than likely, Mr. Ostby could have joined Helene in boat 5, but they never found each other. As she put it, "I was waiting all the time.."