Rosalind P. Walter, the New York native who would become the singular symbol of women empowerment, died Wednesday at age 95, according to several reports.
Walter took on the once male-dominated duty of working the night shift driving rivets into the metal bodies of Corsair fighter planes at a plant in Connecticut. A newspaper column about her inspired a troop-rallying, 1942 song that turned her into the legendary Rosie the Riveter, the archetype of the hardworking women in overalls who supported men fighting for the U.S.
Written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb and popularized by the Four Vagabonds, the bandleader Kay Kyser and others, “Rosie the Riveter” captured a historical moment that helped lay the groundwork of the women’s movement of the last half of the 20th century. It began:
All the day long whether rain or shine
she’s a part of the assembly line
She’s making history,
working for victory —
Rosie, brrrrr, the Riveter
Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage
Sitting up there on the fuselage
That little frail can do, more than a male can do —
Rosie, brrrrr, the Riveter.”
A year after the war’s end, Walter, by then working as a nurse’s aide at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, married Henry S. Thompson, a lieutenant with the Naval Reserve and a graduate of Stanford University, at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. They had a son, also named Henry, before the couple divorced in the 1950s.