This month we celebrate Memorial Day and remember all of those brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Even though Karl Howell Behr never served our country in the military, he was still a gentleman with a story that will live on for the ages. Born on May 30, 1885, he was a Titanic survivor. He bought a first class ticket to Titanic to continue his courtship with Helen Monypeny Newsom. He had fallen in love with Miss Newson and planned to marry her.
Despite Behr’s honorable intentions, Miss Newsom’s family was opposed to the relationship. In fact, Mrs. Beckwith, Newsom’s mom, took her daughter on Titanic to keep her away from Behr. Since true love almost always wins, the plan did not work.
Even though Miss Beckwith had her doubts about Mr. Behr, he was the ideal son in law for any mother. At the age of 26, he was already a successful lawyer. He was also a star tennis player who reached a No. 3 ranking in the US in 1907. Of course, Behr had the financial ability to take care of Miss Newsom and raise a family with her
When Titanic sank into the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, Behr was one of the lucky passengers that was saved. He boarded Lifeboat 5, which was the second boat to leave the vessel. According to some news reports, Behr proposed to Miss Newsom on the lifeboat.
While on the Carpathia, Behr was very impressed with the leadership and bravery of Captain Arthur Rostron. He participated in a committee to recognize Rostron’s courage and the ship’s crew. Many Titanic survivors were a part of the board including the outspoken Molly Brown. The group awarded Captain Rostron an engraved silver cup. Carpathia’s crew members received medals.
After the Titanic tragedy, the love between Behr and Newson grew stronger. Behr married Helen Monypeny Newsom on March 1, 1913 at the Church of the Transfiguration in New York City. The couple had a happy marriage and four children: Karl, Peter, James and Sally.
As a married man, Behr turned to a career as a banker rather than as a lawyer. He became banking vice president of Dillon, Read & Co. In his later years, he rose to higher position in the business world. He was also the director of the Interchemical Corporation, the Behr-Manning Corporation of Troy, New York.
In addition to being a prosperous banker, Behr continued to excel in tennis. In 1914, he became the No. 3 US tennis player. He also beat Maurice McLaughlin, who was the world’s No. 1 tennis player, and won the 1915 championship in Sea Bright, New Jersey.
Unlike other Titanic passengers, Behr died peacefully in his home on October 15, 1949 at the age of 64. He is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Morristown, New Jersey. On a personal and professional level, he had a fulfilling life. For being a tennis champion, Behr’s name was immortalized in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in 1969.