Amy Langdon, 100, Helen Bandyke, 101, in attendance
By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Three wartime Rosies – Amy Langdon, 100, of Farmington Hills; Helen Bandyke, 101, of Dearborn; and the late Anne Meredith Smith Ritchie – were honored July 13 at the McFadden-Ross House.
The Michigan Willow Run Chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association added three more rose bushes in front of the Dearborn Historical Museum’s McFadden Ross House to honor the centenarians who worked in factories during World War II, on the home front, producing war materials.
Assistant curator Matt Graff thanked all the Rosie the Riveters who stepped up during World War II and helped make the country “an arsenal of democracy.”
Rick Danes of the Museum Guild of Dearborn, the museum’s fundraising arm, said that during World War II, more than 6 million women entered the workforce on the home front to support the men fighting overseas, as his mother did while his father was in the service.
Jeanette Gutierrez, ARRA Michigan Willow Run Chapter president, thanked the Historical Museum staff, the Museum Guild and the Colonel Joshua Howard Chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution for their ongoing support.
“We are laser focused on honoring these great women and other members of the greatest generation while they are still with us, to receive our gratitude,” she said.
Gutierrez said female descendants of Rosie the Riveters are called “Rosebuds,” while male descendants are deemed “Rivets,” earning a round of laughter.
She said 21st century Rosies are women who today work in formerly male-dominated industries.
“The Rosies opened the door for us,” she said.
Gutierrez recognized other Rosies in attendance, including Helen Kushnir, 96, of Dearborn, who worked at the former DeSoto plant at Michigan and McGraw in Detroit, building Navy Hellcat fighter planes, who was honored in the past with the first rose bush at the McFadden-Rose house.
She also recognized Clara Doutly, 100, of Detroit, who worked at Brinks Manufacturing in Detroit building B-29 bombers, and Gladys Trimper, 93, of Southgate, who, as a school girl, knitted afghan squares for the American Red Cross for the soldiers overseas, and as a result is recognized as a Rosie for her volunteer work.
“World War II was a time when everybody banded together to do what was needed to get the war won,” Gutierrez said.
Sylvia Bandyke, Helen’s daughter, said when her father was drafted into the military, her mother went to work at the former Detroit DeSoto plant building Navy Hellcat fighter planes.
“She was trying to contribute what she could to bring my dad back home,” she said.
Sylvia Bandyke said her parents wrote letters to each other daily during the war, which her family saved.
She said her father used to plant and tend to rose bushes for his wife, and she wonders if it wasn’t a subconscious tribute to her years as a Rosie.
Gale Vanselous spoke about her late mother, Anne Meredith Smith Ritchie, a Rosie who worked at GM’s Eastern Aircraft Division, which built Navy Avenger bombers on the Delphi Trenton Industrial Land in Ewing Township, N.J., and said her mother was proud of her contributions during World War II.
Another daughter, Martha Langdon, said her mother, Amy Langdon, who was attending Michigan State College, would work during the summer at the Highland Park Ford Plant on the F-7 Director, working on the electrical wiring of the device that judged the altitude of aerial devices in planes.
“She felt that she was doing her part,” she said.
Martha Langdon said her mother didn’t receive much training, and all they told them was, “Don’t get electrocuted.”
Following Langdon, Andrew Haring of the Veterans Affairs staff of the office of Debbie Dingell presented Amy Langdon with a framed Congressional Record statement of honor.
Zaineb Hussein, Dearborn Chief of Staff, honored the Rosies as well.
“We are all here today to honor such historical women,” she said. “You are history books for the revolutionary work that you did. You shattered glass ceilings of what women can do, you’ve paved the way and are our trailblazers.”
Audrey Parmentier, of the ARRA Michigan Willow Run chapter, closed by reading the poem “They Were Rosies” by Donnaleen Lanktree.
Graff closed the event by thanking the Rosies for their contributions and extraordinary legacy.