Robert J. Hopkins was an able seaman on Titanic on that fateful night. He was assigned to lifeboat 13 with Fred Barrett. As the lifeboat reached the water, both he and Barrett had to quickly free it as lifeboat 15 was coming down nearly on top of them. Fortunately a knife was found and the ropes were cut allowing the lifeboat to drift away. After he arrived in New York, he sought assistance from the American Red Cross. There were some statements that were inaccurately attributed to him about possible bribery by Duff Gordon who was in lifeboat 1.
Hopkins was from Belfast and immigrated with his wife to the United States in 1900. They had two sons while living in New York but sadly his wife passed away in 1907. His brought his sons to Liverpool to be raised by the family. At the time he served on Titanic, he was living in Hoboken in New Jersey. He would live the rest of his life there and passed away on 17 November 1943. He was buried in Holy Name Cemetery but it never had a headstone till now. Thanks to the Archdiocese of Newark,Titanic International Society and his descendants,a headstone has been put in place. It will be dedicated on 14 May 2016 and blessed by Bishop John W. Flesey.
[Correction#1: NJ.com originally reported that the dedication/blessing was done last week. In fact it is not scheduled till 14 May 2016. The entry has been updated to reflect this information.]
Titanic hero’s grave in Jersey City to finally get headstone (3 May 2016,nj.com)
Titanic Lifeboat No. 13 (Encyclopedia Titanica)
Robert John Hopkins (Encyclopedia Titanica)
The new headstone and memorial service was held Saturday at Mountain Grove cemetery for Oscar Palmquist, who survived Titanic and died in 1925 possibly by foul play. There was no headstone at the time since he was buried in pauper’s grave. However the unusual story of how he died (found dead floating in a pond when he had a fear of water after Titanic) lingered for many and was recalled during Titanic’s anniversary. The Titanic International Society led an effort to put up a headstone so that he could be properly remembered.
About 50 people gathered for the service at Mountain Grove’s chapel. His great nephew, David Palmquist (the city’s former historian) said interest began in his uncle when Titanic was located in 1985 and also Cameron’s movie. Oscar jumped from the sinking ship and used a wooden door to paddle to the nearest lifeboat. There was some confusion at first as he did not appear on the survivors list. As it turns out, many Swedish immigrants changed their surnames after arrival. Oscar had traveled as Oscar Johansson. With so many Swedes with the same name (or variations), he decided to use Palmquist as it was a name associated with Swedish royalty.
In an interesting twist, the funeral home that handled his body back in 1925, the Larson Funeral Home, arranged Saturday’s service while Titanic International organized the event. Siegfried Larson, who handled the body back then, noticed there was no water in the lungs and tried to get the medical examiner to look into it since he was found in only five feet of water but neither the police nor coroner were interested. Now at least Oscar can be properly remembered with a headstone to note he was a Titanic survivor.
Source: Titanic Survivor, Buried In Mountain Grove, Finally Gets A Headstone(29 June 2013, Ct Post)
Oscar Palmquist, age 26, was immigrating from Sweden when he boarded Titanic in Southampton as a third class passenger. He was in lifeboat 15 when rescued. Eventually he ended up living near siblings in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he worked as a tool maker. He died in 1925 under circumstances that many thought suspicious when his body was found floating in a pond. Since many knew he feared water, they did not believe he committed suicide.
Some suspected murder by a jealous husband over an affair with his wife. However officially his death was determined to be accidental and neither murder or suicide. He was buried in Bridgeport’s Mountain Grove Cemetery. His grave was never marked with a headstone and he faded from memory. However his tragic death did apparently strike a chord with many people and was remembered last year during the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking. It also began an appeal by Titanic International Society to put a proper headstone on the grave.
And on 29 June at 11 a.m., a ceremony and dedication at Mountain Grove Cemetery will take place. His great nephew, David Palmquist, and other family members will attended along with Titanic devotees. The public is also welcome to attend.
1. Local Titanic Survivor To Be Remembered At Ceremony(21 June 2013, Sheltonherald.com)
3. A Stone For Oscar-Blog(30 May 2013, Titanic International Society)