Miss Ruth Elizabeth Becker was born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India on 28 October 1899.
She was the eldest child of Allen Oliver Becker (1872-1956), a Lutheran pastor originally from Michigan, and Nellie Elizabeth Baumgardner (1876-1961), a native of Ohio. Her parents had married in Ohio on 20 September 1898 and shortly after settled in India where her father worked as a missionary. She had three siblings: Luther Allen (1905-1907), Marion Louise (1907-1944) and Richard Fulton (1910-1975).
In early 1912 her younger brother Richard fell ill and upon the advice of physicians the family were encouraged to return to the USA where he had better chance of survival. She, her mother, sister and brother left her father behind in India. For their Atlantic crossing, the Beckers boarded the Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as second class passengers (ticket number 230136 which cost £39). Ruth recalled her mother having misgivings about the voyage and her speaking to the purser to gave her reassurance about the ship's durability.
During the voyage Ruth spent her days looking after her younger siblings and would explore the various public rooms. She recalled the beauty of the ship and how everything was brand new and sparkling.
On the night of the sinking Mrs Becker had gathered her three children and headed to the upper decks where they waited for a time in one of the public rooms. Ruth recalled climbing an iron ladder to a higher deck, possibly the ladder from B-deck second class promenade to A-deck first class promenade. It was here that several of the aft starboard boats were being filled. Whether the Beckers joined their respective lifeboats from this deck or the boat deck is not clear. Whilst waiting to board a lifeboat, Mrs Becker was concerned at how cold it was and instructed Ruth to return to their cabin for extra blankets. Before Ruth had the chance to return Mrs Becker's two younger children were thrown into a lifeboat (boat 11) and the frantic mother scrambled to join them, calling out to Ruth to get into the next boat. Ruth casually approached the next lifeboat (boat 13) and asked a crewman if she could board at which he lifted her up and threw her in. From her viewpoint in the lifeboat, Ruth watched the sinking unfold and remembered the ship in her final throes, with the decks still lined with people, many jumping into the ocean.
Ruth Becker survived the sinking. Aboard the rescue ship Carpathia she hunted the decks for her mother. After several hours a woman approached her, asking if she was called Ruth Becker. Upon confirmation, the woman explained that her mother had been looking everywhere for her. Ruth also recalled the sad sight of many women, widows, mothers, daughters and sisters, standing against the rail watching in vain for their loved ones to arrive.
Ruth's father eventually joined the rest of the family in America in 1913. By 1920 she was still living with her family, now in Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio. She attended school there and graduated from Wooster College, becoming a teacher. She was married on 2 June 1924 to Daniel Small Blanchard (b. 14 January 1897), an Illinois native and former classmate who operated a dry-cleaning store. The couple settled in Manhattan, Riley County, Kansas and had three children: Jeanne (1925-1993, later Lehman), Roger Allen (1931-1958) and Richard (1933-2010). She and her husband Dan were divorced after over twenty of marriage and Dan later settled in Arizona where he died on 19 February 1988.
For many years Ruth avoided talking about Titanic. She continued teaching in Michigan up until retirement and it was only after this and her relocation to Santa Barbara, California in 1971 that she opened up about her experiences. She attended several Titanic Historical Society conventions in the 1980s, was interviewed frequently and became close friends with several Titanic historians and other survivors. She would not make another ocean-going voyage until 1990 when she went on a cruise to Mexico. In 1985, at the time of the Titanic's discovery, Ruth was adamant that the wreck should be left alone, although she was not averse to artefacts retrieved from the seabed being displayed in museums.
Ruth Becker Blanchard died on 6 July 1990 aged 90. Her ashes were scattered in the Atlantic Ocean on the spot where Titanic had foundered.
Phillip Gowan, USA
State Of California Certificate Of Death (#90-114321)
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
Articles and Stories
Gettysburg Complier (1912)
Adams County News (1912)
Cleveland Plain Dealer (1912)
Santa Barbara News-Press (1990)
Link and cite this biography
(2016) Ruth Elizabeth Becker Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #344, accessed 27th October 2016 12:33:28 PM)
URL : //www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/ruth-elizabeth-becker.html
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