Apr 22, 2015
1 comment

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.

rosie.4-21According 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.”


  1. Many fond memories of Mary, who shared with us, her friends in N.H., her
    experience as the model for Rosie The Riveter, and the relatively unknown artist, Norman
    Rockwell, who later apologized to her for “bulking her up” to represent the strength of
    American women during WWII. She said she was barely 110 lbs. at the time! Rest In Peace,
    Mary, it was a pleasure and privilege to know you.

    Priscilla Carlson | Apr 22nd, 2015

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.