By Holly Fournier / The Detroit News
Detroiter Fred Quick feared his wife and two daughters had died aboard the Titanic.
Almost 100 years later, his granddaughter recalled hearing stories of that fateful night when Jane Quick, 32, Winifred, 8, and Phyllis, 4, survived the tragedy on the “unsinkable” ship that foundered April 15, 1912, in the frigid north Atlantic.
Stories of survival — and death — on the ship’s maiden voyage are fading from memory, but enthusiasm about the historic event is strong as ever with lectures by experts, TV shows and an exhibit at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. The touring exhibition of more than 300 artifacts runs through Sept. 30, 2012.
More than 60 of those who boarded the mammoth White Star Line boat in Southampton, England, for the trip to the United States were ultimately headed to Michigan. Among them were the three members of the Quick family.
Father Fred had left England 31/2 years earlier, traveling the world looking for work. A plasterer, Fred Quick settled in Detroit from Canada, found work and sent for his family to join him. They bought second-class tickets on the Titanic for the trip.
“My grandmother told me a lot about that night,” said Jeanette Happel, 77, of Troy, the late Winifred Quick’s daughter. “She told me how cold it was.”
Early reports of the sinking had claimed all passengers had been rescued. The truth was more sobering: More than 1,500 had died.
Upon learning of the ship’s collision with an iceberg and knowing his family was aboard, Fred Quick rushed to The Detroit News’ office a day after the sinking, according to an article published in the paper that day. His hands “clenched convulsively” as he searched a list of survivors that came over the telegraph at The News.
After finding his family’s names, he announced, “I’m going to New York” where the steamship Carpathia was to dock with hundreds of survivors from the Titanic.
“My mother, when she first put on her lifejacket, was hysterical because she thought she had to jump into the water,” Happel recalled from stories her mother and grandmother told her.
Jane Quick found seats for her two daughters on Lifeboat No. 11, but was told only children were allowed on board.
“They were not going to let my grandmother in,” Happel said. “She said, ‘We either all go together, or we don’t go at all.’”
Her wish granted, Jane Quick huddled with her daughters on the lifeboat as the band played aboard the sinking ship. One song she remembered, Happel said: “Nearer My God to Thee.” The lifeboat drifted for hours until the Carpathia arrived.
“Everyone in the boat kind of cheered,” Happel said.
The Quicks’ reunion in New York was emotional, but highlighted with humor.
“The first thing my grandmother said to (my grandfather) was, ‘Oh Fred, what a funny hat you have on.’”
The Quicks settled in Detroit and Winifred went on to have five children, including Happel, and Phyllis had four.
Jane Quick publicly shared her story for years until the memories grew too painful. “I think she was probably having dreams,” Happel said. “She was reliving it all the time.”
Stories by survivors or relatives of those who died have fascinated Floyd Andrick.
Andrick, 64, has collected Titanic memorabilia and traveled across the United States and Europe, meeting 14 survivors.
“Just being able to hear their story, one on one, from people who were there and experienced it, it was an awesome experience,” Andrick said.
Andrick is a longtime member of the Titanic Historical Society who has delivered many presentations about the ship.
The thought of a ship — the most luxurious ship carrying “the cream of American and British society” that ended up “at the bottom of the ocean” — kept Andrick’s interest, even while he worked in real estate development and as a licensed surgical technician. He’s been retired for 13 years.
By the time the anniversary comes Sunday, Andrick will have given four presentations on the Titanic this week.
“I think this will probably be the last big fling, could we call it, for the Titanic,” Andrick said. “I think the interest is going to wane after this.”
State residents set sail
Those on the Titanic who had ties to Michigan or who ended up in Michigan:
Ida Anderson, 38, Manistee
Frank Andrew, 25, Houghton
Frederick Banfield, 28, Houghton
William J. Berriman, 23, Calumet
Petar Calic, 17, Sault Ste. Marie
William Carbines, 19, Calumet
Alfred J. Davies, 24, Pontiac
John S. Davies, 22, Pontiac
Joseph Davies, 17, Pontiac
Alphonse De Pelsmaeker, 16, Gladstone
George F. Eitenmiller, 23, Detroit
Charles J. Fillbrook, 18, Houghton
Frank J. Goldsmith, 33, Detroit
Leo J. Hampe, 19, Detroit
Marta Hiltunen, 18, Detroit
Jenny Henriksson, 28, Iron Mountain
Stephen C. Jenkin, 32, Houghton
James Lester, 39, Pontiac
Rene Lievens, 24, Detroit
John Lingane, 61, Chelsea
Joseph C. Nicholls, 19, Houghton
Ellen Pettersson, 18, Iron Mountain
Alfred Rush, 16, Detroit
Frederick C. Sawyer, 23, Halley
Anna K. Skoog, 43, Iron Mountain
Karl T. Skoog, 11, Iron Mountain
Mabel Skoog, 9, Iron Mountain
Harald Skoog, 5, Iron Mountain
Margrit Skoog, 2, Iron Mountain
William Skoog, 40, Iron Mountain
Samuel Sobey, 25, Houghton
Phillip Stokes, 25, Detroit
Thomas L. Theobald, 34, Detroit
Philmn Van Melkebeke, 23, Detroit
Victor Vandercruyssen, 47, Detroit
Camille Wittevrongel, 36, Detroit
Nellie Becker, 36, Benton Harbor
Ruth E. Becker, 12, Benton Harbor
Marion L. Becker, 4, Benton Harbor
Richard Becker, 1, Benton Harbor
John M. Davies, 9, Houghton
Theodore De Mulder, 30, Detroit
Emily B. Goldsmith, 31, Detroit
Frank Goldsmith Jr., 9, Detroit
Anna Hamalainen, 24, Detroit
Viljo Hamalainen, 1, Detroit
Catherine Joseph, 23, Detroit
Michael Joseph, 4, Detroit
Mary Joseph, 2, Detroit
Fatima Masselmany, 17, Dearborn
Jane R. Quick, 33, Detroit
Winifred Quick, 8, Detroit
Phyllis M. Quick, 4, Detroit
Julius Sap, 25, Detroit
Jean Scheerlinck, 29, Detroit
Dickison Bishop, 25, Dowagiac
Helen Bishop, 19, Dowagiac
Hanna Touma, 27, Dowagiac
Maria Touma, 9, Dowagiac
George Touma, 8, Dowagiac
Maude Sincock, 20, Hancock
Mary Davies, 48, Houghton
Borak Hannah, 20, Port Huron
Detroit News Staff Writer Josh Katzenstein contributed.