Miss Eugénie Elise Lurette was born in Hermonville in northern France on 16 November 1852, one of three daughters of Nicolas Lurette and Marie Gervais. The three sisters were named Euphrasie, Eulalie and Eugénie. The eldest, Euphrasie, married Jean Nanet in Trigny (France). The second, Eulalie married Félix Roulet in Fontaines (Switzerland). The youngest, Eugénie, didn't like her forename so she chose to be called Elise.
As live-in companion/maid Elise Lurette travelled through all the world with the Spencer family whom she served for more than thirty years1. She never learned to speak English fluently but she was able to hold a conversation in English albeit with a strong French accent.
The Spencers owned considerable amounts of land in Luzern, Switzerland. It was here that they built a castle named Drei Linden (now the Luzern music conservatory) where they would live during the summer season. They also owned an apartment in Paris and property in New York City.
Elise boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg on 10 April 1912. She travelled on the Spencer's ticket (No. PC 17569) and occupied cabin B-80. The next day she sent a postcard from Queenstown which read: "Many kisses to you all. Splendid, dazzling luxury, delighted by comfort unknown until this day. Your affectionate aunt."
She was in her cabin when crew knocked at her door telling her to evacuate the Titanic. She put her coat over her nightdress and, taking Mrs. Spencer with her, went on deck. In her coat was a plan of first-class accommodation, a menu card from 12 April, and a $5 coin.
Lurette recalled that when they were in the lifeboat (which one is uncertain) she saw people who dived from the Titanic freezing in a very short period of time. She remembered the screams in the darkness and that people who tried to climb in the lifeboat were pushed back in the water by its occupants who were afraid that the boat were overloaded. She rowed the whole night with the other survivors until they were picked up by the Carpathia.
On the Carpathia, sent a Marconigramm, which was transmitted on 17th April 1912 at 1.06 pm:
Mr Wolcott Lane 80 Broadway New York City
Mrs Spencer aboard Carpathia no information regarding
Mr Spencer Elise
When the Mackay Bennett arrived at Halifax at 9:30 am on 30 April 1912, Miss Lurette searched in vain for Mr Spencer's body.
In her later years Elise Lurette divided her time between her apartment at 98, rue Ballard in Paris and Switzerland where she had family. She received a pension from the Spencer family of $200 but had no other contact with them in later years.
From 1938, suffering from Alzheimer's disease, she lived in Fontenay-aux-Roses, France and died there on 31st January 1940.
She was buried in the Cimetiere Communal at Clamart, Paris, France, the grave has now been removed.