Features  Published 01/25/12 5:58pm

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!

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