FeaturesJanuary 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

People Who Went To Penn: Jack Thayer

Jack Thayer was born in 1894 right in this here City of Brotherly Love. He graduated from Penn, went into banking (you don’t say!), and returned to serve as Penn’s financial vice president. That’s all fine and dandy. Now let’s pretend Penn’s undergrad application had the Page 217 prompt back in the early 1900s. Jack’s essay may have started something like this: “I still remember how crisp the air was on April 10, 1912 when I stepped on to the RMS Titanic.”

Jack boarded the fateful vessel with his mother and father when he was 17 years old. Following the ship’s fatal collision, Jack was denied access to the lifeboats reserved for women and children. He jumped ship as the Titanic sunk faster, managing to stay afloat on a collapsable lifeboat overnight until he was rescued and brought to safety aboard the Carpathia. 

In 1940, Thayer self published a pamphlet vividly describing his experiences (probably not unlike Rose DeWitt Bukater‘s). The pamphlet purportedly aided oceanographer Robert Ballard in successfully finding the ship deep on the Atlantic floor. In sum, Jack is the reason the world was blessed with the greatest film of all time. Thanks, Jack!

3 People have left comments on this post


By Never letting go at January 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I think you meant to end this with “I’ll never let go, Jack.”

By Note at January 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

There’s a memorial in Houston Hall to Penn alums on the Titanic

By Mitch at January 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

The Library and University Archives have an online exhibit on Thayer at (http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/pennhistory/titanic/titanic.html). Also for those interested, the rare books and manuscript library at Van Pelt has a copy of Thayer’s pamphlet – anyone is welcome to come by and look at it (http://tinyurl.com/6oaobav).

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