By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two local women who survived the fateful maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic one hundred years ago made substantial contributions to our area in the years after the disaster.

For Kendall Crolius, the Titanic is not an abstract concept.

“Both my grandmother and great grandmother were aboard the Titanic,” she says, “and clearly they got off — or I wouldn’t be here.”

Crolius’ great grandmother, Lily Potter, was taking her daughter, then Olive Earnshaw, on a whirlwind tour of Europe following Olive’s divorce.

Crolius says Lily Potter showed incredible determination throughout.

“My great grandmother, when they were picked up by the Carpathia, immediately started organizing all the other women to take off their petticoats, making makeshift clothes for the little children.  She was running things even before the ships got back to land,” Crolius says.

Once back on land, Lily Potter became secretary for the Philadelphia chapter of the American Red Cross and served from 1930 to 1948.

Her daughter, Olive, married Allen Crolius and had two sons including Kendall’s father, Thomas, and continued her mother’s tradition of service to the Red Cross.

“What I would like people to know about my family is, a life of service is a life well lived,” says Kendall Crolius.  “I don’t know if my grandmother and my great grandmother were saved for a particular reason, but they clearly lived as though they did.”


Read Part 1: “The Philadelphia Connections”

Listen to KYW Newsradio 1060 all week long for Michelle Durham’s entire series, highlighting the Philadelphia links with the RMS Titanic as we mark 100 years since that historic disaster.