April 15 marks the anniversary of the Titanic disaster. If you are an old-timer to OLG parish you would also know that there is a Titanic connection with OLG parish. Her name was Miss Edwina “Winnie” MacKenzie.

For her journey to America, she was to travel on Oceanic, but was transferred to Titanic as a result of the coal strikes. She boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second-class passenger. Titanic was on its maiden voyage and the largest ship afloat when it left Southampton on April 10, 1912. When the ship hit the iceberg at 11:40 PM on April 14, 1912, Edwina left her cabin to investigate. Being told of the iceberg, she went on deck and upon seeing lifeboats being uncovered and prepared for loading she went back to inform her cabin mates. When Edwina returned to her cabin, one of her cabin mates, Susie Webber had already left. The other, Nora Keane, was still dressing. While Nora Keane would leave on Lifeboat 10, Edwina was rescued in (probably) lifeboat 16. She later recalled hearing the ship’s band playing Nearer My God to Thee in the ship’s last moments. The ship finally sank just 2:20 AM on April 15, 1912.

Of the 2,200 passengers and crew, only 710 survived. It was the worst peacetime maritime disaster in history. Edwina has been suggested as the woman who rescued Assad Thomas. As she waited for her boat to be lowered a Lebanese passenger, Charles Thomas came past with his nephew. He begged for the child to be saved and Edwina took the child into the boat with her.

In 1916 she moved from Massachusetts to Southern California where she joined the Army Corps as an apricot picker. It was in California in 1918 that she married her first husband, Alfred Thorvald Peterson. They subsequently ran a bakery together in Beverley Hills until his death in 1944. Her second marriage was to a Mr. James Corrigan. At 79, in 1964, she married for a third time to James Mackenzie. She lived out her retirement in Hermosa Beach, California, as a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. On her 90th birthday in 1974, she received a letter from President Richard Nixon. She last crossed the Atlantic in her 99th year after at least 10 previous crossings. Winnie was a favorite at Titanic functions and conventions even until she was in her late 90’s. She also lived to celebrate her 100th birthday on June 30, 1984. Edwina McKenzie passed away on 3 December 1984 in Redondo Beach, California. She was buried from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church with a funeral mass celebrated by Fr. Ignatius Hinkle, OFM Conv.

by Fr. Peter Mallin, OFM Conv.