| Rose Monroe's dream during World War II was
to fly as a Women's Air Service Pilot, but the WASPs wouldn't allow
widows with children. With the promise of the highest wages anywhere,
Rose daringly moved with her children to Michigan to work on bombers as
a riveter in the Willow Run Aircraft Factory. There, Hollywood
discovered Rose Monroe on an aircraft production line. After appearing
in a war bond film, she then became the real life "Rosie the Riveter."
Like the poster-girl Rosie, Rose Monroe was both capable and
attractive; she captured the "we-can-do-it" spirit of the mythical
seemed born to the role. One of nine children raised in Science Hill,
Kentucky, she proved adept at carpentry, her father's trade. She
started at Willow Run as one of millions of women who showed they could
wield a wrench or a welding torch as capably as any man, contributing
immensely to the War effort.
war, Rosie did not return to a domestic role. She never made use of her
fleeting celebrity by endorsing a line of power tools or otherwise
trading on her fame. Eventually, she started Rose Builders, a
construction firm specializing in luxury homes. She also owned a beauty
supply company and drove a cab for a while.
instilled in us that there's no job that has a woman's or a man's
label," said Connie, her oldest daughter.
finally realized a life-long dream by earning a pilot's license in
1974, though a 1978 crash resulted in the removal of a damaged kidney,
which may have hastened her death at age 77. In 1999, the Kentucky
Aviation Hall of Fame posthumously honored her with its Distinguished
Service Award. Rose left behind 13 great-grandchildren and a host of
fans who were inspired by her image during the war and afterwards.