Update On Oscar Palmquist Memorial & Headstone

Photo courtesy Titanic International Society
Photo courtesy Titanic International Society

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)