Mr Karl Howell Behr

Karl Howell Behr

Mr Karl Howell Behr, 26, was born 30 May 1885, in Brooklyn, New York; the son of Herman Behr and Grace Howell.

Karl Behr was educated at Lawrenceville School and Yale. He was admitted to the bar in 1910. Behr was also a well known lawn tennis star. Playing on the United States Davis Cup team in 1907. Behr, with Beals C. Wright, was also runner up in the 1907 Wimbledon men's doubles championship.

Behr boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as a first class passenger; he occupied cabin C-148 (111369, £30). He had been pursuing Helen Monypeny Newsom, a friend of his sister. In fact, part of the reason he was on the Titanic was to continue his courtship of Miss Newsom. Mrs Beckwith, Helen's mother had been attempting to discourage the relationship and had taken Miss Newsom on a "Grand Tour" of Europe to separate them for a time. It did not work as Behr invented a business trip to Europe and arranged to book passage on the Titanic for his return to America.

On the night of the wreck, Behr joined the Beckwiths, Helen Newsom, and Edwin and Mrs Kimball on the starboard boat deck. Although Third Officer Herbert Pitman was in charge of loading lifeboat 5 Bruce Ismay was also urging wary passengers into the boat. Mrs Kimball stepped forward and asked if they could all go together, and Ismay replied, "Of course, madam, every one of you." As a result, Karl Behr and his friends were rescued in Boat 5.

Whilst returning to New York on the Carpathia, Behr and some other survivors (Mr Frederic K. Seward - Chairman, Molly Brown, Mauritz Björnström-Steffansson, Frederic Oakley Spedden, Isaac Frauenthal and George Harder) formed a committee to honour the bravery of Captain Rostron and his crew. They would present the Captain with an inscribed silver cup and medals to each of the 320 crew members.

In March, 1913, just short of a year after the catastrophe, Karl and Miss Newsom were married in the Church of the Transfiguration. The couple had 4 children; three sons, Karl H. Behr Jr. (still alive, Florida), Peter Behr (b. May 24, 1915, d. March 10, 1997 in San Rafael, California), and James Behr (b. July 16, 1920, d. June 14, 1976, Napa, California), and a daughter, Sally Behr (later Mrs Samuel Pettit, b. March 8, 1928, d. September 1995, Wilmington, Delaware)

Behr later went into banking; he was vice-president of Dillon, Read & Co., bankers, of 28 Nassau St., NY. He was also on the board of the Fisk Rubber Company, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and the National Cash Register Company. At his death he was a director of he Interchemical Corporation, the Behr-Manning Corporation of Troy, N.Y., and the Witherbee Sherman Corporation. His clubs included the Downtown, University and Yale, and the St. Nicholas Society.

Karl Behr's died on 15 October 1949, he was buried at Evergreen Cemertery, Morristown,New Jersey.


His widow later married one of his best friends and tennis partners, Dean Mathey. Helen died in Princeton, New Jersey in 1965.



Karl Behr
Hartford Courant  (1912) 
Karl Behr Playing Tennis in 1906
Boston Globe  (1906) 
Tennis stars Richard Norris Williams II (left) and Karl Behr pose after winning the Davis Cup together
Karl Behr Playing Tennis
Titanic survivor Karl Behr tennis player
Karl Behr playing tennis in 1908

Articles and Stories

Titanic Review (2011) 
New York Times (1965) 
New York Times (1949) 
New York Times (1939) 
New York Times (1915) 
New York Times (1913) 
New York Times (1912) 
Newark Evening News (1912) 
Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1912) 
Newark Evening News (1912) 
New York Times (1912) 
Brooklyn Daily Times (1912) 
Brooklyn Daily Times (1912) 
The Times (1909) 
The Times (1907) 
New York Evening Post 

Comment and discuss

  1. avatar

    Mike Poirier said:

    Is there any particular reason Sallie Beckwith tried to discourage Helen's romance with Karl Behr?

  2. Iain Stuart Yardley said:

    Apologies in advance if this has already been mentioned on the board but I couldn't find anything. I was idly doing an archive research on Titanic for the New York Times and came up with this: August 13, 2002, Tuesday Paid Notice: Deaths BEHR, KARL HOWELL BEHR - Karl Howell, 88, died peacefully at home in East Hampton, NY, on August 10 from pneumonia. He was the son of Karl H. Behr and Helen Newsom, miraculous survivors of the Titanic. Born and raised in NYC, Karl graduated from Lawrenceville School in 1933 and Yale University in 1937. In World War II he served in the Navy as a... Read full post

  3. Colleen Collier said:

    I hadn't caught this one. Thank you for passing it along, though sad news indeed.

  4. Darren Honeycutt said:

    I hate to hear this, I had just received a letter from him several months ago but wasn't aware of his age. Thanks for posting this. Its another link to the Titanic that has left us.

  5. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Not another one! This is very sad news. Thanks for posting it Iain. Best regards, Jason

  6. Andrew Maheux said:

    I'm very sorry to here this Condolences to his family. Cordially, Andrew Maheux

  7. Magda Natalia Piotrowska said:

    Does anyone know where can I find Helen Monypeny Newsom's photo (is her photo in net?)?

  8. Andrew Maheux said:

    There is a small photo of her in the book, Titanic: An Illustrated History. Andrew

  9. Heidi Salinger said:

    Greetings! How wonderful to find a place to be able to share information on such an intriguing subject! I am currently an actor with the TITANIC Exhibit in Tampa and my primary character is Miss Helen Monypenny Newsom. I have read that her son, Karl Behr Jr. resides in Lake Wales and I have been doing research to get in contact with him - I hear he is 90 years old. Anyone know any information on him? I'm wondering if he might have passed away. Or anyone know any interesting facts on the family? I'm very curious! Any help would be fantastic! I thank you all so much!... Read full post

  10. Darren Honeycutt said:

    Karl Behr Jr. is no longer living.

  11. Heidi Salinger said:

    Oh Well, does anyone know if he has any children or descendants? Heidi

  12. Heidi Salinger said:

    > Might anyone know as well about a Carrie, Elaine, or Herman Behr whom all apparently live in or did reside in Lake Wales, FL? I found them while doing a search.. I know that Herman was Karl Behr's father... perhaps Karl Behr Jr. named his son after his grandfather

  13. Iain Stuart Yardley said:

    Morning Heidi, If you go to his death notice lists his surviving children. Hope this helps, Boz

  14. Heidi Salinger said:

    Thank you, Boz. I'm very sorry to hear of this... has anyone ever been in contact with his surviving daughters? Heidi

  15. Tad G. Fitch said:

    Re: I found in my collection of post cards a White Star Line boarding pass, 1 st Class for Miss Helen Monypeny Newsom. A picture of the Titanic or Olympic ship is on the front along with the company name ISMAY, IMIRE & Co. London and also White Star Line New York Boston. I do not know when or where I got this card from , it is not a post card. I would like to know more about this pass if I could.

  16. sandeep said:

    Re: does anyone know how old helen was when she boarded the titanic, and also why the beckwiths were on the titanic to new york.

  17. Ren Davis said:

    helen newsom photo can be found alongside the photo of her beloved Karl Behr on page 37 of the book "Titanic", which is a non fiction companion to the book "Tonight on the Titanic", by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne, published by Random House children's books in August 2002..first edition. should help you narrow it down. Hope this works! If Random house has one photo, it likely has sources for others. I just happened to be looking up photos of the passengers myself, while my daughter was reading this... Read full post

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Colleen Collier, USA Michael A. Findlay, USA Phillip Gowan, USA Rob Ottmers, USA Alan Y. Schaevitz, USA (Husband of James Behr's daughter)

References and Sources

All England Club Records
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy, 2nd ed. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X
Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 14 004757 3
United States Social Security Records
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2016) Karl Howell Behr (ref: #23, last updated: 28th May 2016, accessed 27th September 2020 13:36:32 PM)