Encyclopedia Titanica

Vera Dick

Vera Dick
Vera Dick

Mrs Vera Dick (née Gillespie1) was born in Woodstock, Oxford County, Ontario on 12 June 1891 2, the daughter of machinist Frederick William Gillespie (1865-1952) and Annie Eliza Crane (1871-1946). She had three brothers Wilbur Frederick (1898-1983), Carl Alfred (1900-1905)3, and Verne Albert (1913-1933).  Her family later moved to Calgary, Alberta.

Vera married Albert Adrian Dick on 31 May 1911, the same day as the Titanic was launched.

They boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first-class passengers (Cabin B-20, ticket number 17474, £57).  The couple were rescued in lifeboat 3 Vera wearing just a nightgown and kimono.  She lost all her jewellery including a heart-shaped ruby, perhaps the inspiration for the "Heart of the Ocean" from the 1997 film Titanic?  Mrs Dick claimed to have heard the band playing Nearer, My God, to Thee, as the ship went down.4

Albert Adrian Dick died in 1970 and Vera Dick died in Banff, Alberta on 7 October 1973.  Their only surviving child Gilda died in 1992.

Notes

  1. She has an unusual middle name that is hard to discern in handwritten birth and marriage records. Possibly "Thuroid" or "Thorold". Vera was born in Ontario and there is a town of Thorold in that state, close to her parent's homeland of Brant County, perhaps it had some special significance.
  2. Her birth year is frequently given as 12 June 1894, that is the date on her death certificate and her grave gives 1894 as the year of birth, but an Ontario birth record gives her date of birth as 12 June 189and her marriage record gives her age as 20.  In the 1901 census she is shown as aged 9, the 1906 Calgary Census 15 and 1921 Census of Canada 29.   
  3. Seemingly listed in the 1901 census as Harold.
  4. Richard Howells in The myth of the Titanic (1999) questions how likely it is that Mrs Dick could have heard this having left the Titanic on so early a lifeboat.  He suggests her memory may have been coloured by reports of the same hymn being played or sung when the Steamer Valencia went down off British Colombia in 1906.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mrs Vera Dick (née Gillespie)
Age: 20 years 10 months and 3 days (Female)
Nationality: Canadian
Religion: Methodist
Marital Status: Married to Albert Adrian Dick
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 17474, £57
Cabin No. B20
Rescued (boat 3)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Cause of Death:
Ashes Interred: Union Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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References and Sources

Birth Record
Marriage Certificate
New York Times
, 19 April 1912, Band Played Nearer, My God
Calgary Herald, 6 September 1985, Don't Raise Titanic with Jaded Woman

Newspaper Articles

Brooklyn Daily Eagle (19 April 1912) Husband and wife saved
Mr. And Mrs. A.A. Dick were Luckily Hustled Into Lifeboat Together.
New York Herald (19 April 1912) Woman Survivor Heard Shooting
"Many men were shot down as the last boat put away."
Washington Times (22 April 1912) Survivor Tells of the Heroism of Clarence Moore
Banker Went to His Death Like a Man
Calgary Herald (30 April 1912) Mr. And Mrs. Dick Reach Home
My Wife Saved My Life, Says Husband

Images

The Albertan (1960) Albert and Vera Dick in 1960

Documents and Certificates

(1973) Vera Dick (Death Certificate)
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Comment and discuss

  1. Arne Mjåland

    Arne Mjåland said:

    In Calgary Herald August 26 1996 there was an interview with Mr. Bruce van Norman. Van Norman s grandmother was Vera Dick on the Titanic. According to van Norman, Vera was saved because she would not go in the boats without her husband. The daughter to the couple Dick, Gilda, died in Calgary at age 77 in 1992. According to the obituary about Vera Dick in the Albertian Oct 7 1973, she had three great grandchildren. They must be children to Bruce van Norman?

  2. Alan Hustak

    Alan Hustak said:

    They are. Last I heard they live in Seattle. There are several stories about how they were saved. Gilda told me that during the trip, a young steward had a crush on her mother, much to Bert Dick's annoyance...it was the steward that saw to it that both Mr. and Mrs. Dick were saved.

  3. Alan Hustak

    Alan Hustak said:

    To my delight, I have just discovered an account of the sinking by Bert and Vera Dick published by Maclean's Magazine, May 1, 1950 - "When That Great Ship Went Down" by Ray Gardner. Kinda pre-dates Walter's book. For those interested, there is also another piece from Maclean's,Nov 21, 1959, by Sir James Bissitt, "I watched the Titanic Rescue..."

  4. John M. Feeney

    John M. Feeney said:

    Alan: Good finds! Is Bisset's article basically a promotion for "Tramps and Ladies" (same year), or is it a quite independent "telling"?

  5. Alan Hustak

    Alan Hustak said:

    It is an independent telling, John. No metion of Tramps and Ladies, all it says is that he was known as "Lucky Bisset, who went to sea at the age of 15. In all of my dealings with the Dicks I never heard tell before that Bert "had been badly clipped by professional gamblers in Naples..." Maybe that is why is wife was cheesed off at him aboard Titanic.

  6. John M. Feeney

    John M. Feeney said:

    Thanks, Alan: Regarding Bert's gambling misadventure and any subsequent familial fallout -- Yep, I imagine that could do it! :-) (Time for some new Inter-library loan requests.)

  7. Alan Hustak

    Alan Hustak said:

    You can find both accounts in a book called In the Face of Disaster, True Stories of Canadian Heroism from the Archives of Mcleans, published by Penquin books. isbn-0-14-028804-x

  8. Janicole

    Janicole said:

    does anybody have any other then a profile shot?

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Acknowledgements

Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Phillip Gowan, USA
Alan Hustak, Canada
Hermann Söldner, Germany