Encyclopedia Titanica

Annie Clemmer Funk

Annie Clemmer Funk
Annie Clemmer Funk

Miss Annie Clemmer Funk, 38, was born on 12 April 1874 in Bally, Pennsylvania. Her ancestors were Mennonite emigrants from Germany, who settled there in the late 1700s. Her father was deacon at the local Mennonite church for 25 years.

Miss Funk attended the State Normal School at West Chester, PA and in 1898-99 the Northfield Training School in Northfield, Mass, a girls school founded by the 19th Century Evangelist, Dwight L Moody. Miss Funk then worked under the Methodist Church among the African-American community in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for several years, before taking a staff position with the YWCA in Patterson, New Jersey, working with young women and the growing immigrant community. She had dreamed of being a missionary since her youth and as early as 1903 had indicated to the Mennonite Mission Board her availability. This was finally realized in November 1906 when she was sent to India as the first single female Mennonite missionary to be sent overseas.

It was Janjgir, where she should live and work for the next years. In July 1907 she opened a one-room school for girls, where she initially taught 17 girls. She got closer to the people by learning Hindi. In March 1912, a telegram encouraging her to depart immediately and return to Bally for an early furlough: "Come home at once. Mother very ill. Have purchased on two ships, Pastor Shelly."

She left Janjgir by train to Bombay, and boarded the Persia; the ship was bound for Plymouth but Annie disembarked at Marseille on 6 April probably to travel quicker by train and boat to England.   It is thought she was planning to sail to America on the Haverford from Liverpool but she changed to the Titanic for "a few more gold pieces", as she wrote. She bought her second class ticket number 237671 for £13.

Miss Funk boarded the Titanic at Southampton. She enjoyed the first days by celebrating her 38th birthday. In the night of the sinking, she was asleep in her cabin, was woken by the stewards, dressed and went on deck. She was about to enter a lifeboat, when a woman came from behind, pushing her aside by calling: "My children, My children". The last seat was gone, Annie had to step back. She died in the sinking. Her body, if recovered, was never identified.

In memory of Miss Funk, the school she had founded in Janjgir, India was named the "Annie C. Funk Memorial Girl's School." Sufficient memorial gifts were given by friends in America to enlarge the school and add a two story dormitory for boarding students.

A memorial is erected at the Hereford Mennonite Church Cemetery in Pennsylvania near the grave of her parents.

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer At Port of Arrival (Date: 18th-19th June 1912, Ship: Carpathia) - National Archives, NWCTB-85-T715-Vol. 4183.
Judith Geller (1998) Titanic: Women and Children First. Haynes. ISBN 1 85260 594 4
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912.

Research Articles

Peter Engberg-Klarström Titanica! (2018) Lost Ladies
Who were they and why did they die?

Newspaper Articles

North American (19 April 1912) WOMAN MISSIONARY MAY BE AMONG LOST
Newark Evening News (22 April 1912) FORMER SECRETARY OF PATERSON Y. W. C. A. LOST
Paterson Morning Call (22 April 1912) MISS FUNK ONE OF THE DEAD
Newark Evening News (23 April 1912) MR. FUNK STILL HOPES SISTER MISSED TITANIC
Paterson Morning Call (24 April 1912) BROTHER OF MISS FUNK STILL HOPES
Paterson Morning Call (27 April 1912) MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR MISS FUNK
Paterson Morning Call (27 April 1912) MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR MISS FUNK (1)
New York Times (1 June 1914) Tablet to Woman Lost on Titanic

Graves and Memorials

Search archive online


Günter Bäbler, Switzerland
Pat Cook
Dr Robert W Gerhart
Hermann Söldner, Germany

Comment and discuss

  1. Darren Clossin

    Darren Clossin said:

    The other day I finally visited the Annie Clemmer Funk memorial stone in the Hereford Mennonite Cemetery, about 10 miles from where I live. It was quite moving to actually see it, knowing she gave up her seat in a lifeboat for someone else. I forgot to take my camera along tho so I don't have any pictures of it!

  2. Kevin Perez

    Kevin Perez said:

    Why is there not a thread about this woman? I've done my best to search one about her, but no luck! I agree, she could've just sat there in the lifeboat and done nothing, but decided to let the woman sit with her children and accept her fate.

  3. Marilyn Lena Penner

    Marilyn Lena Penner said:

    I'm glad that she has a memorial, David. I'm Mennonite, and I did not know about Miss Funk until my brother told me. He heard about her while attending seminary in Elkhart, IN. She is an unsung heroine, as much for her work in India as for her death. Here are two good websites. I tried to add them to her biography, but I guess I don't know how to do it right. ... Read full post

  4. Kevin Perez

    Kevin Perez said:

    It's sad to see she died a couple of days before her 38th birthday too. As religious as this sounds, may the Lord bless her.

  5. Arthur Merchant

    Arthur Merchant said:

    Starting with Judith Gellar's book and continuing through the website's dedicated to Annie Funk is the story about how she gave up a place in a lifeboat so a steerage(?) mother could join her children already on the boat. Has anyone verified how factual this account is? Are there any educated guesses about the identity of this woman and her children (the Sandstroms, the Toumas or the Wells for example)? Also any guesses of the boat this took place at?

  6. Katherine Laura Robinson

    Katherine Laura Robinson said:

    I don't know how accurate the story is, but if it's true, the woman might have been Mrs. Becker at Boat 11: "I stood at the lifeboat helping my babies in. When I got them all in the boat the officer said that the boat was filled. I begged him to let me go with my children. He said it was impossible, that there were too many. I pleaded with him." She said that the officer finally pushed her in just as the boat was lowering. She didn't mention anyone getting out to make room for her, but in this article she also omitted the fact that her older daughter, Ruth, was left behind and had to wait for... Read full post

  7. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Annie Funk's biography is at and it would seem that the story is true to a point, though it appears questionable whether she surrendered the seat voluntarily.

  8. Holly Peterson

    Holly Peterson said:

    I really hope this story is the truth, because I did Anne Funk for a school project about underappreciated heroes. As she was a missionary I find this story likely. It is very likely that, if she did surrender her seat, Mrs. Becker was the person she gave it up for. I wrote a poem about her heroism and posted it on the Titanic Poetry thread under Titanic Books. Please if you have time read and review it!

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Miss Annie Clemmer Funk
Age: 38 years and 3 days (Female)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: in Janjgir, India
Occupation: Missionary
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 237671, £13
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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