Rosie wartime worker and volunteer celebrates 95th birthday

Rosie wartime worker and volunteer celebrates 95th birthday
Rosie the Riveter Marian Sousa (Photo courtesy of Luther Bailey).

By Kathy Chouteau

A Rosie the Riveter wartime worker and current Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park volunteer is celebrating her 95th birthday today.

Born in 1926 in Eugene, OR, Marian Sousa still recalls sitting in her high school auditorium and listening to President Roosevelt declare war against Japan following the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941, according to a social media post by the Rosie the Riveter Trust. Little did she know how much that declaration would personally impact her life.

She arrived in Richmond by Greyhound bus in 1942 to babysit her sister Phyllis’ son so Phyllis could work as a welder alongside her husband in Shipyard #2. As fate would have it, Sousa didn’t return to her home state as planned at the end of the summer, having met her future husband. Instead, she enrolled at Richmond High School for her senior year.

Rosie the Riveter Marian Sousa, photos courtesy of Marian

Sousa excelled so well in her studies that, upon graduating in 1943, her high school art teacher recommended her for a special U.C. Berkeley Engineering Drawing course that taught her how to read and draw blueprints. The very same day she completed the course, she was hired to work as a draftswoman in the Engineering Dept. at Kaiser Shipyard #3, where she revised blueprints of the troop transports built there.

Sousa’s work as a Rosie draftswoman lasted a year before motherhood called her away from the Home Front. These days, she’s returned to the scene of her wartime service in her work as a Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park volunteer.

“We are full of gratitude not only for her service on the home front, but for also dedicating her life to sharing with countless others the importance of pulling together for the common good,” stated Rosie the Riveter Trust on social media.

Marian Sousa (the second Rosie on the left), at the Rosie the Riveter Visitors Center in Richmond. (Photo credit: Kathy Chouteau)