George Dunton Widener Biography

George Dunton Widener died during the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. He was a wealthy Philadelphia businessman.


George Dunton Widener was born on June 16, 1861, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Part of the Philadelphia elite, Widener worked in streetcar and railway management. He married Eleanor Elkins and had three children. Widener, his wife and youngest son were aboard the Titanic when it hit an iceberg on April 15, 1912. Widener died aboard the ship after helping his wife and her maid into a lifeboat.


Businessman. Born on June 16, 1861, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The son of P. A. B. Widener, a wealthy and influential businessman, George Dunton Widener oversaw much of his father??s streetcar and railway operations. He is best remembered as one of the victims of the Titanic disaster of 1912.

In 1883, Widener wed Eleanor Elkins, the daughter of his father??s business partner, William L. Elkins. Around the turn of the century, the couple moved in with his father on a grand estate named Lynnewood Hall where they raised their three children, George Jr., Eleanor, and Harry. The Wideners were part of Philadelphia??s social elite and active in many charities. George was the director of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts for a time.

George and his wife traveled to Europe in 1912 with their youngest son Harry. When it was time to return, they chose the Titanic for their journey home. They boarded the ship in Southampton on April 10, 1912, as first-class passengers. On the night of April 14, the Wideners had a private dinner party in the ship??s a la carte restaurant, which was attended by railroad executive John B. Thayer, Major Archibald Butt, the ship??s captain Edward J. Smith among others. Rumors of icebergs in the surrounding waters had already begun to circulate, according to Titanic: A Night Remembered by Stephanie Barczewski.

Later that night, the Titanic struck an iceberg and began to sink. Widener helped his wife and her maid get on Lifeboat 4 with Marian Thayer, Madeleine Astor, and other passengers and crew. Widener, Thayer, and John Jacob Astor refused to board the lifeboats, believing that women and children should be the first to be lowered to safety. Widener??s son Harry, an avid book collector, had been seen last returning to his cabin to retrieve a rare book. Both father and son died in early on April 15 when the Titanic disappeared into the North Atlantic.

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