Family members and Titanic devotees will gather on June 29 at a cemetery in Connecticut to remember a local man who survived the Titanic disaster only to die mysteriously more than a decade later.
Oscar Palmquist was a Swedish immigrant who lived through the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, according to a press release from the Titanic International Society. More than 1,500 people died in the maritime disaster and only about 700 people survived.
On March 25, 1925, Palmquist, a toolmaker by trade, dressed in his best suit, stopped at the barber shop for a trim and then headed out for some entertainment at Walnut Grove, a recreational spot near Bridgeport.
Palmquist was never seen alive again. His body was found several weeks later floating in a reservoir in Bridgeport’s Beardsley Park. He was identified by papers in his suit pocket.
Rumors of a love triangle with a married woman circulated after his death. In the end, however, both foul play and suicide were ruled out and his death was dismissed as an “accidental drowning.”
Had morbid fear of water
Many people, including the minister of the Swedish Evangelical Salem Lutheran Church, which Palmquist attended, disputed the cause of death since Palmquist’s Titanic experience had left him with a morbid fear of water.
Despite these protestations, no autopsy was ever conducted and his remains were quietly interred in Bridgeport’s Mountain Grove Cemetery.
Palmquist’s humble grave was never marked with a headstone and his story faded quickly from memory through the years. But his tragic death captured the imagination of many — to have survived the Titanic disaster, only to be found dead in a park pond 13 years later.
Honoring his memory
Palmquist’s story garnered some small attention last year as the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking was observed and an appeal was launched to remember him with a granite headstone to honor his memory and recognize his connection to Titanic.
This commemoration has been spearheaded by Shelley Dziedzic, president emeritus of Titanic International Society, a nonprofit organization based in Midland Park, N.J.
Family members to attend ceremony
Palmquist’s family members have been located and will be part of a memorial unveiling and dedication ceremony to take place Saturday, June 29 at 11 a.m. at Mountain Grove Cemetery, 2675 North Ave. (near Dewey Street), Bridgeport.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony as Oscar Palmquist is finally recognized as a Titanic survivor from Connecticut.
His great nephew, David Palmquist, will be writing an updated biography of his great uncle, which will be published in Voyage and made public on this site at the same time.
David Palmquist once was head of the Bridgeport Public Library’s Historical Collections Department and wrote regularly on the city’s history, including in at least one published book.
Learn more about Oscar Palmquist as well as the Titanic International Society at titanicinternationalsociety.org.