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Preserver Of Titanic History Dies


A man who as a teenager became fascinated with the Titanic and devoted his life to preserving the history of the doomed luxury liner has died in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Edward Kamuda founded the Titanic Historical Society in 1963 and as its president developed it into an invaluable resource for scientific researchers, explorers, historians, film-makers, and people simply fascinated, as Kamuda was, with the stories of the survivors.

Kamuda died this week at the age of 74, one day before the anniversary of the Titanic striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912. It sank, killing 1,517.

Barbara Kamuda, Ed’s sister, helped him run the society’s office and museum located in a former photography studio in the back of a jewelry store in Springfield’s Indian Orchard neighborhood.

"  I believe (Ed) is part of the history of the Titanic."

Ed Kamuda’s fascination with the Titanic began when he was a middle school student  with a reading of “A Great Ship Goes Down.”  Then he saw the 1953 movie “Titanic.”  As Kamuda explained in an interview two years ago, he began to correspond with dozens of survivors.

"  I wanted to find out what prompted them to go on the Titanic, how they survived, and what happened to their lives after that.  They're all gone now. They were all like family."

The museum started after Kamuda learned that the possessions of a survivor had been tossed in the trash after their death.

The society’s private collection has thousands of items and includes buttons, combs, and articles of clothing survivors had with them on board, poignant letters and photographs.  It has a life vest worn by Mrs. John Jacob Astor and a deck chair that was kept by the crewman of a ship sent to recover bodies.

The society was a resource for Dr. Robert Ballard who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic on the ocean floor in 1985.  The society had a plaque placed at the site and Kamuda became an outspoken critic of efforts to salvage items from the ship wreck.

" It is ok to go down and take pictures of the wreck, but leave the materials alone."

Kamuda was a technical advisor on the filming of James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster, “Titanic” and he and his wife appear on-screen as extras in one scene.

Society spokesman Chris Dougherty said the organization has about 3,000 members and will continue with Kamuda’s widow Karen taking over as president.

" Ed was the bedrock of this organization and has left a large hole in it. But his wife Karen has vowed to carry-on. There are a lot of people involved who share the passion, so I believe it ( the society) will continue."

A memorial service for Kamuda will be held on Friday, April 25th   He will be buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Springfield not far from  a Titanic memorial that was dedicated by the society two years ago to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

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