Milton S. Hershey
The founder of the confectionery company that bears his name, Milton S. Hershey was a very wealthy man indeed. Indeed, he had made his fortune – and his name – well before 1912, the year he was booked to sail on the Titanic. Along with the banker J.P Morgan and Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, heir to the family shipping and railroad empire, Hershey ultimately decided against taking what was hyped up as ‘the trip of a lifetime’, a wise move indeed.
As soon as he learned of the record-breaking ship and plans for her maiden voyage, Hershey would have been interested and desperate to go. While he may have been old-fashioned in many ways, this was a man who loved technology and new advances in science and engineering. A giant ship setting out from Southampton and attempting to speed across the Atlantic in record time would have definitely been his cup of tea. And it was. As the company record show, in December of 1911, Hershey wrote White Star Lines a check for $300, enough to secure two places on the Titanic for himself and his wife Catherine.
The happy couple had been spending that winter in the south of France and in Germany, where Catherine had been receiving medical treatment. At the last minute, however, their travel plans were changed. Hershey was required to return to the States sooner than initially anticipated. Just three days earlier, but those three days were all that mattered. The Titanic sailed without him and, not wanting to go on such a trip on without her beloved husband, without Catherine too.
There’s no question that the world would still have Hershey bars in it had he managed to take up his berth on the doomed ocean liner. However, once he made his money, Hershey dedicated the latter part of his life giving it away. In 1918, he set up his own School Trust and then in 1951, the M.S. Hershey Foundation was established. All the people who have benefited from this philanthropy in the years owe their good fortune to that fateful day when the chocolate giant chose to return to his homeland three days earlier than he initially planned.