Service held for last survivor of ’58 Great Lakes shipwreck

Published 5:58 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2021

ROGERS CITY, Mich.  — A memorial Mass has been held in northern Michigan for the last remaining survivor of a Lake Michigan shipwreck that killed 33 people in 1958.

Frank Mays was one of two people who survived the sinking of the Carl D. Bradley, a freighter that was on its way to Rogers City, Michigan, to pick up a load of stone before the shipping season ended.

Mays, 89, died on Jan. 7 in Zephyrhills, Florida. A memorial Mass was held Monday in Rogers City, his hometown.

In 2018, Mays spoke at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum in Detroit, recalling how he and Elmer Fleming survived after the Bradley split in two during a storm.

He said he and Fleming were dressed in warm clothes while others “were lying in their bunks and only had time to grab a lifejacket before we hit 38-degree water.” They remained in the water for 15 hours.

“We held onto a life raft and talked as much as we could and tried not to fall asleep,” said Mays, who was 26 at the time. “When another ship found us in the morning, we were covered in ice, and doctors said we only had about a half-hour left because our bodies were shutting down.”

Mays co-wrote a book about the experience, “If We Make It ’til Daylight.”