Dr William Edward Minahan was born in Chilton, Calumet, Wisconsin on 20 April 1867.
He was the son of Irish immigrant parents William Burke Minahan (1833-1906), a county school superintendant, and Mary Shaughnessy (1839-1902), both Limerick natives. He had ten known siblings: Robert (1858-1935) Ellen (1860-1915, later Jaeger), John Robert (1862-1941), Grace (b. 1865), Hugh (b. 1871), Mary (1873-1945, later Hector), James (b. 1875), Ida Daisy (b. 1879), Victor Ivan (1881-1954) and Edna (1883-1883)
He first appears on the 1870 census of Wisconsin as a three-year-old. He and his brothers Robert and John all became doctors and William was known was one of the foremost surgeons in Wisconsin.
He was married on 2 August 1893 to Mary Elizabeth Dignin (b. 20 May 1876) of Brothertown, Wisconsin, a former classmate from Oshkosh Normal School. They went on to have a daughter, Maude Olive, on 15 October 1894. The couple were later divorced and William was remarried around 1903 to Lillian Mae Thorpe (b. 1875) who hailed from Indiana. The couple remained childless and settled in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, appearing there on the 1910 census. His 1912 passport describes him as standing at 5' 10½", with a full face, a florid complexion with blue eyes and grey hair.
In early 1912 Minahan, his wife and sister Daisy were on a visit to their ancestral Ireland, having departed from New York in January aboard Berlin on a vacation that was, according to his passport, to have lasted six months. Daisy was reportedly stricken with appendicitis and this seemingly hastened their return to the USA. They were the only first class passengers to board Titanic at Queenstown (ticket number 19928 which cost £90). They occupied cabin C78.
On the night of the sinking the Minahans spent time in the Café Parisien and enjoyed the company of Major Archibald Butt, the Wideners, the Thayers and Captain Smith before retiring to bed around 9.30 pm. Asleep at the time of the collision they were later wakened by the sound of a woman crying in the companionway outside their cabin and immediately began to dress. Leaving their cabin they headed to the portside boat deck and were shown to lifeboat 14. Minahan's last words to his wife and sister were report to be "be brave."
Dr Minahan died in the sinking and his body was later recovered by the MacKay Bennett (#230):
NO. 230. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 6O. - HAIR, GREY.
CLOTHING - Black suit and overcoat.
EFFECTS - Pocketbook; papers; gold watch, "Dr. W. E. Minahan"; keys; knife; fountain pen; clinical thermometer; memo book; tie pin; diamond ring; gold cuff link; nickel watch; comb; check book; American Express; $380; 1 collar button £16 10s. in gold; 14 shillings; nail clipper.
FIRST CLASS PASSENGER.
NAME - DR. W. E. MINAHAN.
The body was forwarded to Victor in Green Bay, Wisconsin on 2 May 1912. He is buried at Green Bay. In 1985 trophy hunters broke into his mausoleum and stole his skull; it was later recovered by police and reinterred.
His estate was valued at $81,000 and he also had life insurance policies amounting to between $130,000 and $200,000. His widow Lillian and daughter Maude benefitted from that estate.
His widow Lillian later moved to California and was remarried twice before her death in 1962.
His first wife Mary continued to live in Wisconsin and died on 19 March 1952. His daughter Maude later worked as a school teacher and was never married. She died in Green Bay, Wisconsin on 26 March 1961.