Encyclopedia Titanica

Susan Parker Ryerson

Susan Parker  Ryerson
Susan Parker Ryerson

Miss Susan "Suzette" Parker Ryerson was born in Milton, Norfolk, Massachusetts on 3 August 1890.

She was the eldest child of Arthur Larned Ryerson (b. 1851), attorney, and Emily Maria Borie (b. 1863) who had married in Philadelphia on 31 January 1889.

She had four younger siblings: Arthur Larned (b. 1891), Emily Borie (b. 1893), Ellen Ashfordby (b. 1895) and John Borie (b. 1898). The family appear on the 1910 census as residents of Cooperstown in Springfield, Ostego, New York. 

Susan had been on vacation in Europe with her parents, sister Emily, brother John and two servants Grace Bowen and Victorine Chaudanson when the family received devastating news: her brother Arthur, a Yale undergraduate, had been killed in an automobile accident on 8 April 1912. Cutting their holiday short the entire party joined the first available ship which was the Titanic and boarded at Cherbourg as first class passengers (ticket number 17608 which cost £262, 7s, 6d), occupying cabins B57, B63 and B66.

On the night of the sinking Susan waited with her family and their servants for some time to board lifeboat 4; she was among the rescued but her father was among the lost. 

In the years after the disaster, Susan attended the University of Chicago and lived with her mother at 2700 Lake View Avenue in that city. 

During World War I Susan travelled to Europe in June 1917 on a ship of the French Line, her passport describing her as standing at 5' 6" and with dark brown hair and brown eyes set in a round face. Whilst in France she served as a nurse for the Committee of the Fatherless Children of France and as a bacteriologist in an army field hospital. In the midst of the conflict for much of the time Susan also drove ambulances to transport the wounded to safety and her gallantry earned her the Croix de Guerre.

Whilst on leave in Paris Susan met Lieutenant George Washington Patterson III (b. 19 January 1893), a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduate of Yale since 1914. The son of George Washington Patterson II and the former Merib Susan Rowley, he was appointed as the corresponding secretary of the Yale Bureau in Paris to assist Yale students who had volunteered for service in Europe. Patterson was himself a bearer of the Croix de Guerre and he and Susan were married in Paris on 15 June 1918. 

George Washington Patterson 

George Washington Patterson

Susan and her husband returned to the USA and settled in Morristown, New Jersey where Patterson worked as an editor for The Jerseyman; Susan interested herself in civic duties such as housing and the arts and was a secretary of the Morristown Orchestral Society, among other organisations. She and her husband were childless and had been planning a trip to Africa when Susan developed appendicitis. Following surgery Susan developed ether pneumonia, a complication that results from prolonged exposure to anaesthesia, and she died from heart failure on 13 January 1921 aged just 30. She was buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Cooperstown, New York.

Her young widower set off on a long trip just a few months after her death to China, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines. He is not believed to have remarried and he died only a few years later in 1925.

References and Sources

Canton Daily News, 9 May 1918
Jerseyman (Morristown, N.J.) January 14, 1921, Obituary
Freeman''s Journal (Cooperstown, New York) Wednesday, January 19, 1921, Obituary
State of New Jersey Certificate and Record of Death
Chicago Sunday Tribune
, April 21, 1912
Passport Photos, National Archives

Research Articles

The tragic stories of Titanic survivors who died prematurely...

Newspaper Articles

Evening Bulletin (18 April 1912) POSTPONE RYERSON FUNERAL
New York Times (5 September 1915) MISS RYERSON TO WED
Jerseyman (14 January 1921) MRS. PATTERSON IS CALLED BY DEATH
(19 January 1921) MRS. GEORGE W. PATTERSON, JR.
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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Miss Susan Parker Ryerson (Suzette)
Age: 21 years 8 months and 12 days (Female)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Single
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 17608, £262 7s 6d
Cabin No. B57/63/66
Rescued (boat 4)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Thursday 13th January 1921 aged 30 years
Cause of Death:
Buried: Lakewood Cemetery, Cooperstown, New York, United States

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