Famous for surviving the 1912 Titanic disaster by jumping into the freezing water and subsequently being rescued by Lifeboat 12, Thayer later published his personal account of the tragic event that had resulted in the deaths of his father and numerous other passengers.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he served in the United States Army during the First World War.
Tragically, he committed suicide when, within just one year, his mother passed away on the Titanic disaster's anniversary and his fighter pilot son went missing in combat during World War II.
The son of Philadelphia Railroad vice president John Borland Thayer, Jr. and socialite Marian Thayer, he was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His marriage to Lois Buchanan Cassatt lasted from 1917 until his death and produced children named Edward, John, Julie, Pauline, and Lois.
He and the English-born Eva Hart were both Titanic survivors.