Gretchen Fiske Longley

Gretchen Fiske Longley

Miss Gretchen Fiske Longley was born in Hudson, Columbia, New York on 1 September 1890.

She was the only daughter of New York natives Levi Fiske Longley (b. 1850), a lawyer, and Mary Deare Andrews (b. 1850).

Her mother died in 1892 and by the time of the 1900 census she and her father were living with her maternal grandparents Robert Emmet Andrews (1819-1901) and Matilda Scudder Fonda (1821-1911) and her extended family in Hudson, New York. She was living at the home of her aunt Cornelia Andrews by the time of the 1905 census, her father having died in 1902. She was educated in Boston Ladies' School.

Gretchen boarded the Titanic in Southampton under ticket number 13502 which cost £77. She was travelling with her maternal aunts Cornelia Andrews and Anna Hogeboom. Miss Longley occupied cabin D-9. Gretchen opened a farewell letter when she arrived in her cabin; it was a good wish for every day of the voyage.

Gretchen Fiske LongleyGood weather
Refreshments
Every desire
Tommies to burn 
Chocolate icecream 
Heavenly evenings 
Entire meals 
No regrets

The curious note spells out "Gretchen".

On the night of the sinking Gretchen had been in her stateroom at the time of the impact. The shock drew her out into the corridor twice out of curiosity but she found everything quiet with seemingly no cause for alarm. Her aunt Cornelia was nervous however and it was at her insistence that the trio made their way up to the boat deck.

Gretchen and her aunts escaped in lifeboat 10. The lack of crewmen in the boat compelled Gretchen and other women, including at least one of the Fortune ladies, to assist in rowing.

Gretchen and her aunts eventually reached New York aboard Carpathia.

Gretchen Longley

On 21 October 1913 Gretchen became a married woman. Her husband was Pennsylvania-born Dr Raymond Sylvester Leopold (b. 21 March 1884) who would later be an executive vice president of Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, of which he was a graduate. The couple had three children: Gretchen (1914-2005, later Mrs Robert Hamilton), William (1917-1965) and Barbara (1920-2001, later Mrs William Walton) and made their home in Philadelphia. She was widowed when her husband died on 30 June 1957 and she lost her son at a young age in 1965.

Later a resident of the Emlen Arms, 6733 Emlen Street, Philadelphia, Gretchen had previously run an antique shop at 8127 Germantown Avenue, also in that city and continued to travel extensively, undeterred by her experiences on Titanic. It was on one such ocean-going voyage aboard SS Constitution whilst cruising in the Mediterranean that Gretchen passed away aged 74 on 11 August 1965. She was buried with her husband in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Coincidentally, her daughter Barbara passed away in California on 15 April 2001.

Grave of Gretchen Longley
© Michael A. Findlay, USA

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Walter Lord (1960) The Good Years, Harper & Bros. New York
Boston Globe, 16 April 1912

Newspaper Articles

Washington Times (19 April 1912) CAPT. SMITH ENDED LIFE WHEN TITANIC BEGAN TO FOUNDER
Newark Evening News (19 April 1912) THREE STILL SUFFER FROM PERILS AND COLD
Daily Home News (20 April 1912) Jersey Women Tell Thrilling Tales
New York Times (20 April 1912) PRAISE ASTOR AND BUTT
Evening Bulletin (12 August 1965) Gretchen Leopold, Ttitanic Survivor, Dies Aboard Ship

Images

Anna Hogeboom, Kornelia Andrews, and Gretchen Longley?
(1912) Kornelia Andrews, Gretchen Longley and Anna Hogeboom in Venice
Boston Globe (1912) Gretchen Longley
National Archives (1924) Gretchen Longley Leopold
Los Angeles Times (1928) Gretchen and Raymond Leopold
(1959) Gretchen Longley
Philadelphia Daily News, 12 April 1962 (1962) Gretchen Longley in 1962
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Comment and discuss

  1. avatar

    Phillip Gowan said:

    I think it a bit ironic that this Titanic survivor lived to tell about the disaster--and then died on another ship--thought the following clipping might be of interest to some on the message board: (Taken from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, August 12, 1965, page 33, column 5) GRETCHEN LEOPOLD, TITANIC SURVIVOR, DIES ABOARD SHIP Mrs. Gretchen Longley Leopold, a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic in the North Atlantic in 1912, died yesterday aboard the SS Constitution in the Mediterranean. She was the widow of Dr. Raymond S. Leopold, former executive vice president of... Read full post

  2. Michael Findlay said:

    Even more ironic, Phil... Gretchen Leopold Hyde, Gretchen Longley's daughter, told me that she and her mother were speaking about the Titanic disaster on the day Mrs. Leopold died aboard the S.S. Constitution. According to Mrs. Hyde, she stated that her mother did not speak of the Titanic often but the subject came up because of the circumstances of being aboard another ocean liner. Mrs. Leopold apparently gave an riveting lecture about her Titanic experiences to her usual table companions at dinner on August 10, 1965. Questions and answers followed. After that, Mrs. Leopold and her... Read full post

  3. Tieler Niedzwiecki said:

    Hi, Does anyone know if that S.S. Consitution was the same one that later sailed with American Hawaii Cruises and was scrapped a few years back. If that's the case it would be even more strange because it sank on her way over to the scrappers. Thank you for all the info. Tieler.

  4. Michael Findlay said:

    Hi Tieler, You are correct. The S.S. Constitution was the same one that later sailed with the American Hawaii Cruise Line. After a long and successful career, and plagued with asbestos, the Constitution sank during a storm and lies beneath 2,000 feet of water, 900 miles north of Hawaii. Regards, Mike Findlay

  5. Tieler Niedzwiecki said:

    I thought it was the same ship. What a shame! I didn't get a chance to sail on her but I have the Independence. I wish they would build more classical ships like they used to. Thank you for the info. Tieler.

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Michael Poirier, USA
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Craig Stringer, UK
Geoff Whitfield, UK

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2016) Gretchen Fiske Longley (ref: #192, last updated: 29th January 2016, accessed 31st July 2021 18:16:50 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/gretchen-fiske-longley.html

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