Dr Washington Dodge - Titanic First Class Passenger

Dr Washington Dodge was a first class passenger aboard the maiden voyage of Titanic, travelling home to America with his wife Ruth Dodge and their 4 year old son Washington Dodge Jr. The family boarded Titanic at Southampton, United Kingdom on 10th April 1912, and all occupied cabin A34.

Washington Dodge, the son of Mark and Eliza Dodge, was born in Sonora, California on 3rd June 1859. He married Alice Lampson Shepard in 1891, and they had a son born on 29th November 1891 called Henry Dodge. His marriage to Alice ended in divorce in around 1902. He remarried to Ruth Vidaver, and their son Washington Dodge Jr was born on 23rd September 1907.

At the time he sailed abroad Titanic he was serving as the (tax) assessor for the city and county of San Francisco, a position he has served continuously and was first elected to around 14 years earlier. Aboard Titanic he and his family were making their way home to San Francisco from a trip to Europe.

At the time of Titanic’s collision with the iceberg late at night on 14th April 1912, Washington Dodge was in bed in his cabin. After being awakened by the ship striking the iceberg, he went to investigate.

After the order to start loading the lifeboats, he accompanied his wife and son to the starboard side boat deck, where they were placed into Lifeboat 5. He was left behind on the Boat Deck, but did later find a place in Lifeboat 13. Washington Dodge and his family survived the Titanic disaster.

In July 1912 he resigned as assessor for the city and county of San Francisco and took up a position in San Francisco at the Anglo and London Paris National Bank as first vice president.

Shortly after the end of the First World War, while he was serving as President of the Federal Telegraph company, Washington Dodge led a business deal involving a substantial amount of money – the sale of assets belonging to a company called Poulsen Wireless – a company controlled by the Federal Telegraph company. It was said that Washington Dodge received a large commission from the sale. It seems that soon after the sale the value of shares in his company plummeted; though, by the time this had happened, Washington Dodge had already sold his shares in the company when the price was high. The other shareholders in the company who had lost money were not happy, and in January 1919, Washington Dodge had no choice but to resign from the company.

Later in that year, on 21st June 1919, Washington Dodge was in the garage of the apartment building in which he lived, Carlton Apartments, 840 Powell Street, San Francisco, when he shot himself in the head, in an act of suicide; the gun shot – however – did not initially kill him, and he was able to make his way to the elevator and make his way back up, where he was first taken to his apartment and then to hospital. For a time it seemed he may survive – but – with his family around him – he died from his injuries, in hospital on 30th June 1919.

Following his funeral on 3rd July 1919, Dr Washington Dodge was cremated at Cypress Lawn Cemetery, Colma, California.

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