DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — On April 14, 1912, a 22-year-old Titanic passenger on his way to Dayton cheated death by leaping into a lifeboat as the sinking ship plunged into icy waters.

Now, his family is remembering him on the 111th anniversary of the ship’s infamous sinking.

Philip Zenni, Titanic survivor, in a picture contributed by his family (Photo courtesy of Calvary Cemetery)

Thomas Heiser said he never had the opportunity to meet his great grandfather, Philip Zenni, who became known to Dayton as ‘Mr. Titanic’.

However, Philip is remembered by other family members as being ‘very flashy’ and having a bigger than life personality.

Philip was born in 1890 in Lebanon, which was at the time occupied by Syria. He was living in France with his wife, Elsie, when he decided to see what America had to offer.

Philip recounted his Titanic experience in a Niles, Ohio newspaper article dated April 25, 1912, according to Calvary Cemetery, who has covered Philip’s story on their history tour.

As the story goes, Philip and his traveling companion were asleep when they were awakened by the crash of the Titanic hitting the iceberg. Leaping from their beds, they made it to the top deck. Once there, they were in the midst of great confusion.

Philip attempted to leap into a lifeboat but was stopped by an armed officer. He then tried another unsuccessful leap. Moments later, the officer turned away, and Philip seized the opportunity by leaping into the lifeboat.

There were three men and twenty women on the boat. This is where Philip allegedly crossed paths with the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown.

The lifeboat passengers rowed about two miles to escape the suction of the sinking ship. Five hours later, at nearly 5 a.m., the lifeboats saw Carpathia, a ship coming to their rescue.

Once to shore in America, Philip was taken to the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigration Aid Society, where he was provided with clothing and assistance.

Soon after the sinking, Philip brought his wife, Elsie, to Cleveland, where their first child, Matilda was born. She was born April 12, 1913, a year after the Titanic sank.

The family came to Dayton, where Philip’s brothers and sisters lived. He had three more children in Dayton: Jeffery, Frances and Nazera.

Philip was known for having many business ventures. He toured around Ohio, giving speeches about his experience on Titanic. Additionally, he opened a confectionary store with dry goods at Webster and E First Street. He also had a pool hall on E Third Street near what is now Dayton Metro Library.

He also had a show of dancing girls in straw skirts and brightly colored beaded costumes. His daughter, Nazera, who passed away in Dec. 2013, once recalled that she and her sisters would play dress-up in the colorful costumes.

Philip died of pneumonia on Dec. 4, 1927 at the age of 38, according to Calvary Cemetery archives.

His family is still in possession of a suitcase that he used during his travels, which they keep to remember him by.