Phyllis Gould, who was one of the millions who worked in defense plants during World War II, and who later tirelessly fought for the recognition of the “Rosie the Riveters,” died. She was 99.
Gould, who lived in Fairfax, north of San Francisco, died on July 20 from complications of a stroke, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The U.S. launched a recruitment campaign to recruit women for defense jobs during World War II to replace the men serving in the armed forces. Rosie the Riveter is a famous poster depicting Rosie the Riveter in a polkadotted bandana, showing off her muscular arms as she rolls up her sleeves.
Six million women entered the workforce. Gould, who was a welder and one of six women hired in the San Francisco Bay Area shipyard Richmond for the war effort.
She became an interior decorator after the war and had five children.
Her sister described her as “kind of a hippie,” saying that she was similar to one.
Shannon Akerstrom, Shannon’s great-granddaughter, said that her grandmother was an “I can do it” person throughout her life. “The Rosie thing — she was that.”
Akerstrom said that she does welding on her ranch, just like grandma. She also does it with my daughter,” Akerstrom explained to the Chronicle. “Grandma thought that it was very cool.”
Although women defense workers were not given much notice or appreciation at the end of war, Gould continued to fight for their respect. In 2000, she was instrumental in the creation of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.
In 2014, Gould and other Rosies met former President Barack Obama as well as former Vice President Joe Biden. She pushed for the creation of Rosie the Riveter Day annually held on March 21st. Before her death, she was designing a Congressional Gold Medal that would be awarded next year in honor of the Rosies.
“She truly put the Rosies on the map. Her sister stated that it was her letters, so many of which she wrote to everyone, that made it possible.
Jackie Speier, a Representative from Washington, said that Phyllis is as famous in modern-day America as the Westinghouse poster featuring the woman wearing a polka-dotted tuna and that the gold medal was authorized. “She worked tirelessly on the phone every day to get Congress to recognize the Rosies.”