Mike Fedorchak wanted to have a party for the remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic, a ship whose sinking his grandmother and uncle had survived.
Fedorchak, of Minot, died March 22.
But his family will continue the tradition of his interest in the great ocean liner that sank near Newfoundland 100 years ago.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • This front page of the April 18, 1912, edition of the Ward County Reporter, a forerunner of The Minot Daily News, was the newspaper’s first report to its readers of the sinking of the steamer Titanic, which occurred a few days earlier.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • This photo of a newspaper clipping from the Wilkes-Barre, Pa., newspaper shows Mike Fedorchak’s grandmother, center, Thamine “Thelma” Thomas, who survived the sinking of the Titanic. Other relatives in the photo include his mother, Sadie, father, Joe, brothers, Peter and Bernie, and sisters, Lorraine and Betty. The photo was taken on the 50th anniversary of the Titanic sinking. Mike and his brother Joe both were serving in the Air Force at the time – Mike in England and Joe in Greece.
Submitted Photo • This photo of Mike and Betty Fedorchak was taken as part of an event when the Titanic dinner was reenacted at Luigi’s Restaurant in Fargo. Mike Fedorchak’s grandmother and uncle survived the ship’s sinking.
On April 14, 1912, at 11:40 p.m., the Titanic, on its maiden voyage, slammed into an iceberg and by 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the "unsinkable ship" was gone. It sank in the frigid waters south of Newfoundland.
In a Dec. 20, 1997, story published in The Minot Daily News, Fedorchak, who was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., explained that his grandmother, Thamine "Thelma" Thomas, and her infant son, Essid, were among the people who survived the sinking of the ship.
Titanic had about 2,223 passengers; about 705 of them survived.
Newspaper first reported Titanic sinking on April 18, 1912
The Ward County Reporter, a forerunner of The Minot Daily News, gave its first report to its readers of the sinking of the Titanic on April 18, 1912, three days after the ship went down on April 15, 1912.
The story said all hope that any passengers or members of the crew of the Titanic other than those on board the rescue ship, the Carpathia, were alive. The Carpathia was on its way to New York.
"All hopes for details of the tragedy and its effects center on this ship," the story said.
Many men of great prominence in the two continents were among the missing including Col. John Jacob Astor, the story said.
Fedorchak related to The Minot Daily News in the 1997 story:
His grandfather had immigrated to the United States and arranged to marry Thomas in Lebanon, then bring her to the United States. They were married in Lebanon, but his grandfather had to return to the United States to work. He later sent his brother to Lebanon to return with Thomas and their newborn son, Essid.
Thomas, who was 16, and her baby, and 13 other relatives traveled from Lebanon to Cherbourg, France, where they boarded the Titanic to sail to the United States. The 13 relatives did not make it to the United States but died in the arctic waters when the Titanic broke in half.
"When the ship was going down, my grandmother threw the baby to a woman in one of the lifeboats," Fedorchak said, in the interview. "She thought she was going to die. But she managed to get onto another lifeboat. She and her baby were reunited in New York, with other survivors." Essid died of pneumonia as a young boy.
On the 50th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking, Thomas, who lived in Wilkes-Barre and was interviewed by the local newspaper, said she "spent nearly a dozen hours adrift in a lifeboat" while keeping an eye open for a boat containing her loved ones.
She told the newspaper she had almost given up hope of ever seeing her baby again when he was returned to her. "I was never able to find the woman who took care of him," she said.
Thomas took part in numerous ceremonies marking the anniversary of the demise of the ship. She died in 1972.
Fedorchak and his wife, Betty, arrived at Minot Air Force Base in 1976 and have made their home in Minot since. Their three children are: Odette Scheel, Fargo, Michael Fedorchak, Bismarck, and Veronica Fedorchak, Milwaukee, Wis.
Mike Fedorchak spent much of his time researching the Titanic's tragic sinking. He gave presentations on it to school classes and other groups.
"Everywhere we were people wanted him to talk about it," Betty said. Mike and Betty lived in many parts of the world during his military career.
"Mike's grandmother Thamine "Thelma" Thomas survived the sinking of the Titanic and he knew her good fortune made the blessings of his life possible," Mike Fedorchak's obituary said.
"Mike said that to me many, many times," Betty said.