Akron Beacon Journal

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Joan Wells Succumbs At Hospital After Fight For Life

Death is never cheated.

When Joan Wells was a four-year-old baby, a child with fat little legs and curly hair, she was snatched from her bed in a steamer cabin of the S.S. Titanic by her trembling mother, and while all around her in that dark night of horror on April 15, 1912, drowning men and women screamed, and while death cackled over the waters, she was carried to safety.
   Early Tuesday morning, at the age of 25, she died at People's hospital after two major operations, two blood transfusions. Science gave her every chance, every resource of man was combined to struggle for her life, but this time, death did not pass her by.


Joan Wells died while her mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Wells, 712 Patterson Ave., her brother Ralph, of 706 Schiller Ave., who was with her that night of the Titanic disaster, a two-year-old baby, stood by her side.
   But, as a last bitter jest, death cheated the young woman of a last goodbye to the man she loved, her fiance, W. F. Lachman of 347 Dayton St.
   Lachman, a teacher at Coventry High School, left Akron on his vacation last Wednesday. Miss Wells was apparently recovering and he went far into the Canadian north woods to fish in a little lake where there isn't so much as a telephone or telegraph office.


Last Saturday Miss Wells began to grow more ill. Lachman who had given his blood for the first transfusion was not here, another young man volunteered his.
   By Sunday the family was frantically trying to reach young Lachman, that he might say goodbye. Now they are trying to have the word taken into the Canadian woods to Lachman to return to Akron for the funeral of the girl he expected to marry in the fall.
   Monday morning a letter from Lachman came for Miss Wells. She was too sick to read it. When her mother came home from the hospital after the death of her daughter she sat down at the table and wearily opened the envelope, unfolded the sheets. It began: "When I get back, I expect to see you up and about. Hurry and get well."
   Mrs. Wells was telling of the time her daughter escaped death Tuesday morning. "Joan was born at Newlin, Cornwall, in England. Her father crossed first, and came to Akron. We were coming to join him. Ralph was two and Joan was four then."
   The babies were asleep, Mrs. Wells remembered, when the shock of the iceberg crash sent water swishing in their cabin porthole. She lay there, wondering idly what was the matter, not particularly fearful.


A steward came running down the hall, banging on the doors. "Get dressed, get on deck, until we know what has happened."
   Then, frightened, Mrs. Wells dressed her two little children, while Joan thought it was all just an adventure. But once on deck, the children were frightened to silence, while men screamed and shoved, women battled frantically for seats in lifeboats.
   "It was dark. You couldn't see anything on the water. But as we rowed along in the lifeboat, you could hear them crying horribly, as they drowned. I used to hear them always, afterwards, and still do, sometimes, in my dreams. Those terrible cries for help, and no one to help them!"
   The Wells family drifted about in the boat until 8 AM when they were picked up. They had only their clothes-everything else they owned was lost. But they were safe, one of the few families still intact.


Miss Wells was graduated from West High School at 15. She had been employed since 1925 at the B. F. Goodrich Co., where she was private secretary to Edward Schneider in the sales division.
   Besides her father and mother and brother, Ralph, she is survived by two American-born brothers, Arthur and Charles. Funeral services are being postponed, if possible, until Saturday, on the chance that Lachman will be found in time to attend.
   "She came of an old Cornish family. My maiden name was Addie Trevaskis. She was always proud of that, so put that in," Mrs. Wells said sadly Tuesday morning, adding:
   "I used to thank God every night that my children were saved from the disaster. But now she's dead, and still so young."
p. 1

[Note: Joan's fiance, William F. Lachman, later married and lived a long life in the Akron area, dying in the suburb of Mogadore on January 24, 1994, exactly one month after his 90th birthday.]

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2003) DEATH CLAIMS YOUNG WOMAN WHO ESCAPED 'TITANIC' DISASTER AS CHILD: EFFORTS TO REACH FIANCE IN CANADA PROVE FUTILE (Akron Beacon Journal, Tuesday 11th July 1933, ref: #348, published 28 August 2003, generated 31st July 2021 08:51:55 PM); URL :