The Providence Journal

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PROVIDENCE: Miss Helen R. Ostby, 88, who survived the sinking of the Titanic and who was in Belgium early in both World Wars, died yesterday at the Jane Brown unit of Rhode Island Hospital. She lived at the Wayland Manor, 500 Angell St.

Born in Providence Nov. 30, 1889, she was a daughter of the late Engelhart C. and Elizabeth M. (Webster) Ostby. She lived in Providence most of her life.

In 1914 she had been traveling in Germany when World War I broke out. She escaped through Flanders, but arrived in Liege on the same day as the German soldiers.

She later returned to Belgium and lived in Brussels for 10 years.

One May morning in 1940, she was awakened by bombs from German planes. During her last five months there, Belgium was occupied by the Germans. Shortly after returning to Providence in January, 1941, she described the hectic pullout of French and British armies, and gave a firsthand account of the fleeing refugees. She and other Americans had finally been allowed to leave, but she had to wait three months in Lisbon for passage home.

Her experience on the Titanic was recounted in a story that appeared in the Rhode Islander magazine of the Sunday Journal on April 15, 1962, 50 years after the ship went down.

"I had just dropped off to sleep when I was awakened by a jar that felt about as it would if your were in a car that scraped the side of a tree," she recalled. "I sat up in bed trying to make out what had happened. It seemed completely silent for a minute or two."

"When we got out on the boat deck, the noise of the ship blowing off steam from all four funnels was a deafening roar. You could hardly hear anyone speak to you."

From her lifeboat, she said, she "could see and hear that the people on board were realizing there was no place to go. As the ship began to stand on end, we heard a big rumbling, rattling noise as if everything was being torn from its moorings inside the ship. All of a sudden that stopped, and she stood on end very quietly for a minute, then went down like an arrow."

Miss Ostby was a volunteer worker at Rhode Island Hospital. She leaves several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow at noon at Grace Church, Providence. Burial will be in Swan Point Cemetery.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2003) HELEN R. OSTBY, SURVIVOR OF TITANIC; DESCRIBED SINKING IN RHODE ISLANDER (The Providence Journal, Wednesday 17th May 1978, ref: #296, published 28 August 2003, generated 4th August 2021 03:48:24 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/helen-ostby-survivor-of-titanic-described-sinking.html