Mary Doyle Keefe, far better know as ‘Rosie the riveter’ has sadly passed away aged 92!!
The sad news happened when Mary passed away after a brief illness on Tuesday in Simsbury, Connecticut.
Fabulously famous for modelling as the red-headed riveter in the 1943 paintings by Norman Rockwell, Rosie represented the millions of amazing women who went to work on the home front during world war II.
The 19 year old telephone operator was on the cover of the saturday evening post, on May 29, 1943.
Depicting strength in the painting, Rockwell modelled her body on Michelangelo’s Isaiah, which is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Rockwell’s ‘Rosie’ had stocky arms, large hands and substantial shoulders, far from the reality of Mary’s petite and dainty frame….
Painted in front of a waving American flag, with russet red hair, a blue work shirt and denim overalls, seated with a sandwich in one hand and her other placed on her ‘Rosie’ labelled lunchbox….
Her lap was the cradle for her rivet gun and her pair of penny loafers were firmly standing their ground on Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” manifesto.
Mary said the people in her hometown of Arlington, Vermont, didn’t take much notice of her being Rosie in the painting, although she had suffered some sporadic teasing from her townspeople from time to time….
Twenty-four years after Mary had posed for Rockwell, He sent a letter calling her the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and apologised for the painting making her appear hefty!
“I did have to make you into a sort of a giant,” he wrote.
The Rosie painting – which has often been confused with a poster by a Pittsburgh artist depicting a woman flexing her arm under the words “We Can Do It” – was used in a nationwide effort to sell war bonds….
The Famous painting is now part of the permanent collection at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Mary spent many years after her moment as ‘Rosie the Riveter’ happily married to her husband of 55 years, and as a mother to four children.
Mary has spent the last eight years in a retirement community in Simsbury, according to an obituary prepared by her family.
A memorial Mass is to be held on Friday at McLean Village in Simsbury. A graveside service is scheduled for Saturday at Park Lawn Cemetery in Bennington.