Encyclopedia Titanica

Thamīn Tannūs

Thamīn Tannūs
Thamīn Tannūs

Mrs Iskandar Tannūs 1 (Thamīn Khūrī; Thelma Thomas)  was born in Hardīn, Lebanon on 25 December 1895.2

She was the daughter of Ilyās Khūrī and Sufīyah Riyād Hassī and she was married in 1910 to Iskandar Tannūs (aka Alexander Thomas, b. 15 May 1890) who earned a living selling fruit and vegetables in their home village.

It was decided that Thelma and her husband would emigrate and Alexander travelled ahead first, settling in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where his married brother Bashīr (Charles) had previously emigrated to and who operated his own dry goods store there. Alexander sent Charles back to Lebanon to fetch his wife and son As'ad (who had been born on 8 November 1911) and return with them to Wilkes-Barre.

Thelma, her son As'ad, brother-in-law Charles Thomas (Bashīr Tannūs) and several others from their village of Hardīn left for Beirut where they would cross to Marseille and eventually arrive in Cherbourg. The party boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg on 10 April 1912 as third class passengers (Thelma and her son As'ad on joint ticket number 2625 which cost £8, 10s, 4d) and Thelma was headed to 33 Loomis Street in Wilkes-Barre. Among the various relatives travelling with her were her cousins Amīnah Mubārik and her sons and Sīlānah Yazbak and her husband Antūn Mūsà Yazbak.

On the night of the sinking Thelma and her brother-in-law Charles brought baby As'ad to the upper decks but they got separated in the confusion, Thelma ending up in a lifeboat with Charles still clutching baby As'ad. It is not certain which lifeboat Thelma departed in: some sources would suggest that she left in lifeboat 14 with baby As'ad being passed to a woman (later identified as Edwina Troutt) who then entered boat 16. Other sources have Thelma departing in boat C and baby As'ad in the arms of Miss Troutt in boat D.

Thelma and her son survived the sinking and were reunited aboard Carpathia. Her brother-in-law Charles was lost.

Hospitalised in New York for the effects of shock and exposure Thelma and her son eventually landed in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and was reunited with her husband. She remained in Wilkes-Barre (at 216 Stanton Street) for the rest of her life and had a further nine children: Sadie (b. 1914), Edward (b. 1916), Sarah (b. 1919), Helen (b. 1921), Joseph (b. 1923), Mae (b. 1925), Peter (b. 1927), Marjorie (b. 1930) and Jean (b. 1932). She and her husband continued to operate a produce store and she was widowed in 1938.

Thelma became a local celebrity and was frequently interviewed by local media about her experiences over many years and always claimed that the screams of those struggling in the water never left her memory and gave her occasional nightmares. She was also present at some low-key survivor reunions with survivors from her area, including Leah Aks, Selena Cook and May Futrelle and for a while she corresponded with Edwina Troutt, the woman who had saved her son As'ad. Edwina Troutt had been identified as As'ad's saviour when in 1972 she was being interviewed on NBC's Today Show and described how a man handed her a baby before she entered a lifeboat. Dave DeCosmo, a manager at a radio station, who had seen the interview, made some enquiries and put Edwina and Thelma Thomas in contact with each other. Although the two survivors never met each other, they did speak on the phone and write each other until Thelma's death. Thelma had also been a guest at a screening of A Night to Remember in 1958 in Washington, DC.

Thelma Thomas lived much of her life at 216 Stanton Street in Wilkes-Barre. She died in Valley Crest Nursing Home after a brief stay on 7 January 1974 aged 78. She was buried in St Mary's Cemetery in Wilkes-Barre.

Several of her children are still alive as of 2014 and she is remembered by them as a very kind yet strong and outspoken lady.


(Courtesy of Michael A. Findlay, USA)

Notes

  1. Thamine, "Thamin", or "Tamin" as her name is variously spelled, presumably anglicized her name to Thelma Thomas after her arrival in America.
  2. Her social security application gives her year of birth as 25 December 1893.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mrs Thamīn Tannūs (Thelma Thomas) (née Khūrī)
Age: 16 years 3 months and 21 days (Female)
Nationality: Syrian Lebanese
Last Residence: in Hardīn, Batroun, Syria
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 2625, £8 10s 4d
Rescued  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Monday 7th January 1974 aged 78 years

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References and Sources

Sunday Independent, Wilkes-Barre, 10 April 1960
Unidentified newspaper, 15 September 1985: Titanic Discovery Stirs Memories For Mae Thomas

Newspaper Articles

North American (19 April 1912) SEVEN WILKES-BARRE PERSONS ARE MISSING
Newark Star (23 April 1912) SIX BULLET HOLES TITANIC MEMENTOES
The Times Leader (13 April 1962) City Resident Tells Of Disaster At Sea
The Times Leader (8 January 1974) Survivor of Sinking of Titanic Dies
Washington Post (9 January 1974) Thelma Thomas, 78, Survivor of Titanic
Citizens' Voice (14 April 1979) DeCosmo Identified Titanic Baby's Rescuer
The Times Leader (13 April 1992) The Night Lives On

Images

Thelma Thomas in the 1960s
The Times Leader Thelma Thomas in later years
(1912) Thamīn Tannūs
Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (1962) Thelma Thomas in 1962

Documents and Certificates

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912, National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Mark Bray

    Mark Bray said:

    Okay, I have a question about Mrs. Thamine Thomas. In her ET biography it said she died on 7th January 1974. It does not say where she died. Does anyone know. Please help and email me:

  2. Michael Findlay

    Michael Findlay said:

    Dear Mark, Mrs. Thomas died in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania at the age of 78. I visited her grave several years ago. Interestingly, her marker was inscribed, "Survivor of Titanic Ship." I sent a picture to Phil Hind a short while ago so you should see it on the ET soon. Sincerely, Michael Findlay

  3. MARK BRAY

    MARK BRAY said:

    Thanks, Michael. Do you know if Mrs. Thomas had family living at the time of her death? I was wondering. Thanks again Mark : )

  4. Denise A. Hunyadi

    Denise A. Hunyadi said:

    I wasn't quite sure where to put this, so I'm starting a new thread. There was an article in a local paper last week about Thelma Thomas, who was a Titanic survivor from third class. The Sun Newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio, interviewed her daughter, Marjorie, who related what her mother told her about the disaster. You can read the article here: Denise [Moderator's Note: This message, originally posted as a separate thread in a different subtopic, has been moved to... Read full post

  5. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Great article, Denise. Thanks for posting the link.

  6. Denise A. Hunyadi

    Denise A. Hunyadi said:

    Hi, Jason! You're very welcome, of course. And thank you for finding the correct thread for me--duh! Denise

  7. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Don't thank me, Denise, thank Mark. He moved your post to here.

  8. Denise A. Hunyadi

    Denise A. Hunyadi said:

    Yikes! You're right, Jason. Thank you, Mark. You do excellent work! ;-) Denise

  9. Wanda Simpson

    Wanda Simpson said:

    My grandmother was Thamin Thomas. She, her infant son, Assad, her brother-in-law and several other relatives were passengers. Only she and her son survived. Charles and her son were separated in the confusion but he gave the baby to Ms. Edwina Troutt before the ship went down. My grandmother and her baby were reunited in New York.

  10. SmileyGirl

    SmileyGirl said:

    Hi Wanda. So sad. I had read Edwina Troutt held a baby in her arms all night. I’m so happy mother and son were re-united. Was the baby your father or Uncle?

  11. Wanda Simpson

    Wanda Simpson said:

    The baby was my uncle. Unfortunately, I never met him as he died at 19.

  12. SmileyGirl

    SmileyGirl said:

    Aaw I’m sorry. Thank you for sharing. Were you told of any other stories that night by your relatives?

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Acknowledgements

Gavin Bell, UK
Leila Salloum Elias
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Michael A. Findlay, USA

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Thamīn Tannūs (ref: #1254, last updated: 13th September 2018, accessed 29th November 2021 05:21:24 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/thamine-thelma-thomas.html