Upstate New York Resident and Rosie the Riveter Leaves Lasting Legacy
During World War II more than 310,000 women stepped up to help with the war efforts. They left their homes and worked in factories and shipyards producing a variety of things, including munitions and war supplies. 'Rosie the Riveter' was the star of a campaign featured in movies, newspapers, posters, photographs, and in articles. She stressed the patriotic need for women to roll up their sleeves and help. The women who answered the call were known as 'Rosie the Riveters.'
On July 28, 2018, the United States of America lost another one of our most treasured cultural icons when Marilynn Jean White, a real-life Rosie the Riveter passed away at the age of 94 in the Mohawk Valley of New York.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Marilynn moved to Seattle, Washington at the age of 16 where she picked up a job working for Boeing Aircraft as a Rosie The Riveter and according to her obituary, Marilynn's story is, "held in the archives of the National Historic Trust WW II Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond, CA, as well as in a book of Rosie Stories."
Marilynn's life truly was an incredible one. Not only did she play an important role in World War II, but after the war, Marilynn went on to work at General Electric and Duofold. She believed in giving back to the world around her and volunteered much of her time to various organizations, including the Utica Zoo.
In 2016 at the age of 92-years-old, Marilynn finally received her high school diploma from Central Valley Academy in Ilion, proving that a person really isn't ever too old to achieve their goals. Marilyn is survived by her children Donna, Martin, and Sandra. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert and her daughter, Barbara.
It's no coincidence that on the very same day that Marilynn passed away, I was at a fundraising event for the Twin Tiers Honor Flight which is a not-for-profit organization, that transports area veterans, including World War II veterans, to Washington, D.C. so that they can visit their war memorials and receive the honor they are so deserving of.
While at the Twin Tiers Honor Flight fundraising event, I met a woman named Tina Pitcher-Johnson. Tina is part of a group of women who call themselves the Parlor City Dolls. These women dress as pinup girls and attend various functions around upstate New York, educating our community about what life was like during World War II. Tina also dresses as Rosie the Riveter and donates her time to explain to groups the story and importance of Rosie in the history of the United States.
On Saturday, the very day that sweet Marilynn was called home, Tina shared with me the story of how she was at an event with Marilynn and the national anthem was about to be sung. Marilynn, in a wheelchair and unsteady on her feet, asked Tina to help her stand. She insisted that she must and always would stand for the National Anthem. What a woman!
*In January of 2018, Naomi Parker Fraley, the woman who inspired the creation of Rosie the Riveter passed away at the age of 96.