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Titanic Survivor Lived Another 97 Years
For many people, the sinking of the Titanic exemplifies the risks of luxury ocean travel – even in the supposed best and safest of circumstances. For Frances Taylor and her family, the Titanic signifies the power of Fate to transform lives and herald a new beginning.
Back in 1912, Frances Taylor was a shy, curly-haired 3-year-old. And she was coming to America. Her Scottish Dad was already here, making a new start. Things were looking up – he rented a new home for the family and he saved some money. So he booked tickets for his wife and five children to join him. That passage was on the Titanic.
Francis knew this story by heart. A little from memory, and a little from the story of his own parents. Much later, from her home in Lake Forrest, Orange County, California, she told it many times to her children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, who never tired of hearing it.
Gamrie, Scotland, is a small town on the North Sea coast, about 40 miles north of Aberdeen. Many months have passed since Frances’ father left. Now in the United States, he was looking forward to being reunited with his offspring. He had a lot to tell them. And he would have woken up early as usual on the morning of April 15, 1912, then washed and dressed for work. He probably wouldn’t buy a newspaper – he was Scottish after all – and he needed his money for other things. But he would have heard the news:
TITANIC DISASTER – GREAT LOSS OF LIFE
For Frances’ family, the dramatic events of 1912 when they befell the family were indeed a headline – a personal headline. Looking at articles and documentaries over the years about the horrific event, they thought so their Frances deserved a documentary. Hers a story guaranteed proper telling and a permanent record – like the other survivors of the Titanic.
Actually, 3-year-old Frances and her family didn’t make it on the Titanic. Reserved steering, their Titanic tickets continued to be hot property. And, as the family story goes, the family was removed from the passenger list at the last minute in favor of some higher status travelers. They would travel to the New World on another ship.
Is the shock of a big loss less because the news later turns out to be wrong? Frances’ father was crushed by reports of the Titanic going down. His work, his sacrifice – it was for nothing. Only later did he learn that his family was safe. A second time he would fall – this time for emergency help. It became the stuff of family legend.
Frances survived the Titanic. Boy, did she survive it. She survived her near miss on the Titanic by 97 years. Talk about paying the gods of fate.
Frances Taylor died on October 6, last year at her daughter’s home in Lake Forest. Just before that she was honored at Disneyland in Anaheim and drew local headlines that said “Woman who avoids Titanic disaster turns 100 at Disneyland”. And Frances took one more boat ride – this time on one of those small skiffs calmly ferrying passengers through the “It’s a Small World” attraction. She was 100 years old and survived the sinking of the Titanic by a whopping 97 years.
Before she passed away, daughter Maggie Winn helped put together a custom-made video biographical documentary for her mother — just like “A&E.” Speaking later she said, “She went peacefully. We played her video at her memorial and got so many wonderful compliments on it. It was so touching, beautiful and humorous.”
Frances’ family prospered after they all arrived safely in America. And her story of surviving the Titanic has made successive generations appreciate even more the opportunities they were given by that first lonely Scot who thought he had lost everything.
And Frances’ story finally got the attention it deserved – at least as far as her grateful family was concerned.
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