A piece of history

Written by Dick Mason, The Observer April 23, 2014 10:06 am

John Lamoreau holds his recently purchased plaque, which honors Dr. William Francis Norman O’Loughlin, one of the heroes of the Titanic. The plaque will be added to his collection of at least 150 artifacts related to the Titanic. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
John Lamoreau holds his recently purchased plaque, which honors Dr. William Francis Norman O’Loughlin, one of the heroes of the Titanic. The plaque will be added to his collection of at least 150 artifacts related to the Titanic. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
 

John Lamoreau, a noted collector of Titanic memorabilia, has a weighty new problem. It is a dilemma he is ecstatic to have.

Lamoreau’s long wait for a coveted artifact ended Sunday, when a crate containing a large bronze plaque honoring Dr. William Francis Norman O’Loughlin, one of the heroes of the Titanic, which sank in the Atlantic on April 15, 1912, arrived on his doorstep. The plaque is one Lamoreau and other Titanic collectors have been searching years for. 

“This is considered a major piece. Major Titanic museums have asked me about it,” Lamoreau said.

He discovered its location and owners after receiving a tip that a group of Catholic sisters had it in New York and were interested in selling it. Lamoreau immediately made a phone call from La Grande to the Catholic sisters, purchased it and had it shipped to his home.

The plaque arrived on Easter in a specially made crate after a month-long journey across the United States. Lamoreau wasted no time disassembling the crate and pulling off the layers of Styrofoam covering the bronze artifact. 

“I was getting chills when I opened it up,” Lamoreau said.

The La Grande High School social studies teacher was relieved to find the bronze plaque is in good condition.

“I had a lot of anxiety (about how the plaque had survived the trip) but it was fine,” Lamoreau said. “It was just like I imagined it.” 

Lamoreau is known for the “Titanic Evening” dinners he puts on almost every year. Lamoreau’s collection of at least 150 Titanic artifacts, one of the largest in the Northwest, is displayed at each dinner. The bronze plaque honoring O’Loughlin will be prominently displayed at his next Titanic dinner. Moving the 200-pound bronze plaque to the dinner site will be a challenge.

(For the full story, see Wednesday's edition (4/23/14) of The Observer)