Encyclopedia Titanica

Karl Howell Behr

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.

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

Newspaper Articles

The Times (26 November 1909) Tennis
Brooklyn Daily Times (16 April 1912) Brooklynites Are Lost As Titanic Sinks
Several Are Believed to Have Sunk With Ship
New York Times (16 April 1912) Karl H. Behr
Brooklyn Daily Times (16 April 1912) Karl H. Behr, Tennis Expert, Among Rescued
Newark Evening News (16 April 1912) Karl H. Behr, Tennis Player, Among Saved
Karl H. Behr Brooklyn Daily Eagle (19 April 1912) Karl Behr Lauds Work Of Ismay
Newark Evening News (20 April 1912) Lifeboat Not Filled, Karl Behr Declares
New York Times (30 May 1912) Titanic Survivors Honor Capt. Rostron
New York Times (2 March 1913) Titanic Survivors Marry
New York Times (26 June 1915) Survivor Says Ismay Ruled In Titanic's Boats
New York Evening Post (28 June 1915) Ismay As Behr Saw Him
New York Times (16 October 1949) Karl H. Behr Dies; Dillon, Read Aide
New York Times (8 September 1965) Mrs. Dean Mathey, Titanic Survivor, 72


Love at the helm: New Titanic title blends romance and history.

Documents and Certificates

Search archive online

In the Titanic Store

Helen Behr Sanford (2011) Starboard at Midnight: A Story of Two Titanic Passengers, The Darwin Press

Comment and discuss

  1. Mike Poirier

    Is there any particular reason Sallie Beckwith tried to discourage Helen's romance with Karl Behr?
  2. Iain Stuart Yardley

    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 Lt. Commander from 1941 to 1946 in the Pacific. A philanthropic businessman, he found Converters Inc. Company in 1952. A resident of Mountain Lake, Lake Wales, FL, and East Hampton, Karl is survived by four daughters, Susan Travers, Princeton, NJ, Sally Ogden, Greenwich, CT, Helen Sanford, Princeton, NJ, and Elaine King, Dover, MA, as well as ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. ... Read full post
  3. Colleen Collier

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

    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. Jason D. Tiller

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

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

    Magda Natalia Piotrowska

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

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

    Karl Behr Jr. is no longer living.
  10. Heidi Salinger

    Heidi Salinger

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

    Heidi Salinger

    > 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
  12. Iain Stuart Yardley

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

    Heidi Salinger

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

    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.

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Karl Howell Behr
Age: 26 years 10 months and 16 days (Male)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Single
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 111369, £30
Cabin No. C148
Rescued (boat 5)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Saturday 15th October 1949 aged 64 years
Cause of Death:
Buried: Evergreen Cemetery, Morristown, New Jersey, United States

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