Snippets about Other Survivors

This page is for snippets of information about other Athenia survivors that have come to my attention.

Russell L. Anderson

I am grateful to Ronnie MacLean for this item.

Dr. Russell L. Anderson was not a survivor of the sinking but was refused passage on board because of racial prejudice; the refusal probably saved his life.

Dr Russell L Anderson (32) had presented a paper to the 7th International Genetical Congress in Edinburgh. He was studied at the University of Pittsburgh where he got a BS, MS and PhD then worked with George Beadle at Stanford University. (Beadle was on the City of Flint as a passenger from Glasgow. He won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1959).

An Athenia passenger refused to share a cabin with Anderson, a black man, and the passenger was one of those killed. Anderson then studied for a medical degree at Howard University, headed the Science Department at Florida A&M University, then was medical director of the Florida A&M University Hospital up to retirement. He died in 1991 (University of Pittsburgh Newsletter Issue 6, 2006).[66]

Margaret Doggett Crow

I am grateful to Donald Fisher of Houston for sending me this information which came from this lady's obituary in the Dallas Morning News.

Margaret Crow, philanthropist and matriarch of prominent family, dies at age 94

Margaret Doggett Crow, philanthropist and matriarch of a prominent family of Dallas-area developers, died Friday night. She was 94. Her husband, Trammell Crow, was founder of the Trammell Crow Co. and Trammell Crow Residential. He died in 2009. The couple's names adorn the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, a Dallas Arts District museum that attracts about 80,000 visitors each year.

A family spokeswoman announced the death, saying Crow died at home of natural causes. Details about a public memorial service at Highland Park United Methodist Church are pending. "If but one word could be used to describe Margaret, it would be 'lady,' said longtime family friend Jim Carreker, a former CEO of the Trammell Crow Co. "She embodied every aspect of the word; she was educated, gracious and tirelessly supportive of her family and her community." Crow was a lifelong resident of Highland Park. Throughout her life, she lived in only two homes within a three-block radius. She was also the last surviving Dallas resident who was aboard the SS Athenia when it became the first British ship sunk by a Nazi U-boat in World War II. She graduated from The Hockaday School in 1937 and was on a school-sponsored trip in 1939 when a torpedo struck the Athenia. The ship sank, but she escaped by climbing down a rope ladder into a lifeboat. She was wearing a short-sleeve silk dress at the time of her escape. "What I didn't have, and what I needed more than a life jacket, was a coat and sweater, because it was very cold," she recalled in 2010. "But the lifeboat was overcrowded, and everybody snuggled together. And there was a man with a bottle of some kind of booze, what I don’t know, but he was very generous."

She married in 1942. Soon after, her husband began his career in real estate. He pioneered the concept of speculative building and eventually grew his company into one of the largest real estate firms in the world. At one point, according to The New York Times, he had interests in almost 300 million square feet of building space in more than 100 cities.  Margaret Crow, meanwhile, became a socialite, civic leader and mother of six children. She attended state dinners at the White House hosted by five different presidents and traveled the world with her husband. She served on many local boards, including for The Hockaday School, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the University of Texas College of Fine Arts Advisory Council. The couple, who collected Asian art for decades, dedicated the Crow Collection in 1998.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her oldest son Robert Crow. She is survived by children Howard Crow, Harlan Crow, Trammell S. Crow, Lucy Billingsley and Stuart Crow. Memorials may be made to the late couple's art museum, The Hockaday School or the Margaret and Trammell Crow Chair for Alzheimer's and Geriatric Research at Southwestern Medical Foundation in Dallas
Margaret Doggett Crow
Photo of Margaret Doggett Crow from obituary [52]

Kate Williams

The following short account was originally published in the Athenia pages of the website Ahoy - Mac's Web Log [49] and forwarded to Mac by Larry Stanley of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. At the time of the sinking, Kate Williams was 66 years of age. (As summarized from an oral communication of Mrs. Kate Williams to her daughter, Mrs. Gladys Dawkins, circa 1950):

As our lifeboat was released into the water alongside the Athenia, I saw a young girl splash into the water some distance from the lifeboat. Her lifejacket brought her to the surface and she started to thrash wildly in an attempt to reach our boat. She managed to grasp the rope on the side of the boat just where I was seated. But because the boat was full, and the weight of her clothes prevented her from scrambling over the edge, I feared the cold water would take what strength she had left, she would let go of the rope and be lost from any hope of rescue.

Without thought, I did the one thing I believed would save her from such a fate. I grabbed her long hair, entwining my hand in it, and vowed not to let go until we were rescued. After holding her this way for some considerable length of time, those around me in the boat managed to adjust their seating in such a way that a sufficient space was made to bring her into the boat. With the help of two other women in the boat, we managed to drag her over the side, and she spent the remaining hours until rescue huddled between myself and the passenger beside me, shivering and utterly devoid of conversation. I never learned her name.

Leona Atfield

In November 2020 I was contacted by Doreen Riedel who made the following statement. I have sent her an extract from the passenger list.

When I was about 7 years old I lived in Victoria BC and had a ballet teacher by the name of Leona Atfield. She, her sister and mother had been returning to Canada on the Athenia when it was torpedoed. Her mother was a concert pianist and had been on a concert tour. Later I was a flower girl at her wedding (also in Victoria , about 1944-5) Her father was very helpful to my mother as my own dad was working in the Arctic during the war years. I do not remember her sister's name. Leona eventually moved to the USA but I met her in Vancouver again in about the 1970's I remember Mrs. Atfield speaking about them spending hours in the water. I have hunted for a passenger list but not located one.