Mrs Edgar Joseph Meyer (Leila Saks) was born as Leila Saks in Baltimore, Maryland on 28 September 1886. She was the daughter of Andrew Saks (b. 1847) and Jennie Rohl (b. 1860).
Her father was born in Baltimore to German parents and initially worked as a tailor and clothier in Washington, DC before he and his brother Isidor founded Saks & Co, a men's clothing and dry goods house, he later becoming company president. He was married around 1879 to Jennie Rohl, native of Washington, DC and who was also of German parentage. The couple had three children: William Andrew (b. 1880), Horace Andrew (b. 1882) and Leila (b. 1886). By 1905 the family were residing in Manhattan.
Leila was married in 1909 to Edgar Joseph Meyer (b. 1884), a native of San Francisco, California and the son of a German father and an Anglo-German mother. The couple had one daughter, Jane (b. 19 May 1911, later Stern). Meyer was a mechanical engineer and an alumnus of Cornell University and his discovery of a method to measure the velocity of flame propagation in gasoline engines became a standard technique. After his graduation from college he joined his brother in business in Wall Street and became vice president of the Braden Copper Company of New York City.
Residents of Manhattan, Mr and Mrs Meyer boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as first class passengers (ticket number PC 17604, which cost £82, 3s, 5d). Leila's father Andrew had died two days before sailing on 8 April 1912 following a protracted illness and the decision to travel on Titanic was a hastily arranged affair following notification of his death.
On the evening before the disaster fellow survivor Daisy Minahan recalled seeing Mrs Meyer among other first class passengers dining in the Café Parisien.
Mrs Meyer later recalled:
"I tried and tried to get Edgar to come into the lifeboat with me, and pleaded to be allowed to stay behind and wait until he could leave, he not caring to leave before all the women had been saved. Mr. Meyer finally persuaded me to leave, reminding me of our one-year-old child at home. I entered the lifeboat and watched until the Titanic sank, but only for a short time did I see my husband standing beside the rail and assisting other women into boats in which he might have been saved."
Leila was rescued in lifeboat 6 but her husband perished in the disaster. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
Following the disaster Leila returned to New York and was reunited with her daughter. She was later remarried, on 30 April 1914, to divorcee Louis Ranger (b. 12 December 1881 in New York), a stock broker, but would have no more children.
Leila continued to travel, visiting France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK in later years. Ships she would travel aboard included: Mauretania, Ile De France, Aquitania and Queen of Bermuda. Her 1924 passport describes her as standing at 5' 3½" with an oval face, florid complexion, blue eyes and black hair.
Leila and her husband lived at 970 Park Avenue, Manhattan for many years. She died on 27 November 1957 aged 71.
Her daughter Jane was married in the 1930s to George A. Stern (b. 1907), a stock broker, and the couple had two daughters: Joan (1933-1986, later Iseman) and Faith (b. 1934). Jane died in New York in 1984.
Michael A. Findlay