Rosalind P. Walter, the First ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ Is Dead at 95

Rosalind P. Walter, the First ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ Is Dead at 95


Rosalind P. Walter grew up in a wealthy and genteel Extended Island residence. Still when the United States entered Entire world War II, she chose to be part of thousands and thousands of other women of all ages in the dwelling-front campaign to arm the troops with munitions, warships and plane.

She labored the evening change driving rivets into the metallic bodies of Corsair fighter planes — a job that had practically generally been reserved for guys. A newspaper post about her motivated a morale-boosting 1942 song that turned her into the famous Rosie the Riveter, the archetype of the tricky-working women in overalls and bandanna-wrapped hair who saved the armed forces factories buzzing.

All the day extended no matter whether rain or glow
she’s a component of the assembly line
She’s producing background,
operating for victory —
Rosie, brrrrr, the Riveter
Retains a sharp lookout for sabotage
Sitting up there on the fuselage
That minimal frail can do, more than a male can do —
Rosie, brrrrr, the Riveter.

Composed by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb and popularized by the 4 Vagabonds, the bandleader Kay Kyser and many others, the tune captured a distinct historical second that served sow the seeds of the women’s motion of the previous fifty percent of the 20th century.

But Rosie was just Ms. Walter’s to start with celebrated act. (Other women grew to become versions for Rosie posters and magazine covers as very well.) At her demise on Wednesday at 95, she remained a thing of a public presence as a main philanthropist and just one of PBS’s principal benefactors, her title intoned with many others on programming like “Great Performances,” “American Masters,” “PBS NewsHour,” “Nature” and documentaries by Ken and Ric Burns.

She was the premier unique supporter of WNET in New York, supporting to finance 67 demonstrates or collection starting in 1978.

Her pal Richard Somerset-Ward stated she died at her household in Manhattan.

Ms. Walter had been drawn to public tv in element to compensate for missing opportunities throughout the war, said Allison Fox, WNET’s senior director for significant gifts. In serving her nation, Ms. Walter had sacrificed a probability to show up at possibly Smith or Vassar College, Ms. Fox mentioned, and observed that public television documentaries and other programs served fill in the gaps in her training.

“She cared deeply about the community remaining educated and felt that general public tv and media is the best way to carry out this,” Ms. Fox reported.

Ms. Walter had two sources of prosperity. Her father, Carleton Humphreys Palmer, was president and then chairman of E.R. Squibb and Sons, the Brooklyn-primarily based drug corporation that assisted mass deliver the early doses of penicillin distributed to the troops throughout Earth War II. (It is now a subsidiary of Bristol Myers Squibb.)

Her second spouse, Henry Glendon Walter Jr., was president and later on chairman and main govt of Worldwide Flavors and Fragrances, which gives the scents and preferences for 38,000 products, from perfumes to treats to laundry detergents for quite a few a long time it was the world’s biggest corporation of its variety.

Henry and Rosalind Walter gave generously to the American Museum of All-natural Historical past, the Pierpont Morgan Library, Lengthy Island University, the college or university scholarship application of the United States Tennis Association and the North Shore Wildlife Sanctuary on Lengthy Island.

Some presents came via what is recognized right now as the Rosalind P. Walter Foundation. The Walters served as trustees or administrators of many of the businesses they gave to.

Rosalind Palmer Walter — close friends named her Roz, not Rosie — was born on June 24, 1924, in Brooklyn, one particular offour small children of Carleton and Winthrop (Bushnell) Palmer. Her mom was a professor of literature at Prolonged Island College.

The family settled in Centre Island, a village in the city of Oyster Bay on Prolonged Island’s North Shore. Its 400 or so well-heeled citizens have due to the fact incorporated the singer Billy Joel, the lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and the media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Her moms and dads sent Rosalind to the Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, Conn., just one of the initial school preparatory boarding colleges for higher-class girls.

By the time she graduated, Europe was at war, and immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 spurred the United States to declare war on Japan, Germany and Italy, she was recruited as an assembly line employee at the Vought Plane Business in Astoria, Queens.

A 12 months soon after the war’s stop, Ms. Walter, by then doing work as a nurse’s aide at Bellevue Medical center in Manhattan, married Henry S. Thompson, a lieutenant with the Naval Reserve and a graduate of Stanford University, at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. They experienced a son, also named Henry, ahead of the pair divorced in the 1950s.

Her 2nd spouse, Mr. Walter, whom she married in 1956, had a son from a preceding marriage, Henry G. Walter III, who died in 2012. Ms. Walter is survived by her son, Henry S. Thompson two grandchildren 4 action-grandchildren and numerous move-good-grandchildren.

Ms. Walter was not the only Rosie the Riveter. There ended up at least 4 other females who became designs for the character as the War Manufacturing Board sought to recruit a lot more females for the military factories.

Norman Rockwell drew his version of Rosie for the address of the May perhaps 29, 1943, issue of The Saturday Night Submit — a grimy-faced, muscular girl in denim overalls, get the job done goggles perched on her brow and a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf trampled underfoot. His product was a Vermont girl, Mary Doyle Keefe, who died in 2015.

And J. Howard Miller drew a Rosie poster for Westinghouse war factories. He portrayed her in a crimson and white polka dot bandanna as she flexed a bicep below the words and phrases “We Can Do It!” The graphic turned a feminist image commencing in the 1980s, reprinted on T-shirts and espresso mugs. The design for that Rosie was most possible Naomi Parker Fraley, a California waitress who died in 2018.

So Rosalind Walter are not able to alone assert the crown of getting the serious Rosie the Riveter. But she was there 1st.


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