The good folks at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond joined the nation Wednesday in saying goodbye to Mary Doyle Keefe, the model who posed in Norman Rockwell’s 1943 “Rosie the Riveter” painting.
Keefe passed away after a brief illness at age 92, the family told the Associated Press.
Rockwell’s painting paid tribute to American women who went to work, many in factories, while men battled during World War II.
According to AP: “Keefe grew up in Arlington, Vt., where she met Rockwell and posed for his painting when she was a 19-year-old telephone operator. The painting was on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943.”
Many of those women worked in the Richmond shipyards, among the world’s largest and most productive. To some, Rosie the Riveter has evolved into a symbol of feminism. In July, one of our local park rangers explained to us the original intent behind the phrase. It bears repeating:
“Rosie dates back to the second world war, a symbol inspired by the women who took up the factory and munitions jobs left behind by conscripted men…The bicep-curling version popular today was designed by a man, J Howard Miller, who took inspiration from tired, oil-covered workers but washed them down and dolled them up to produce his Rosie. Miller never intended his creation to be a symbol of female empowerment – she was used to encourage women to take up jobs in factories as part of their patriotic duty to the war effort.”