A California waitress who inspired the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” poster died on Saturday at the age of 96.
Naomi Parker Fraley, who was only recently identified as the “real” Rosie, passed away in Longview, Wash., the New York Times reported.
Fraley, like many women during WWII, went to work after the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor. She first saw the poster J. Howard Miller created while she was working at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, Calif., and thought it resembled her.
In 2010, Fraley was attending a reunion event when saw the newspaper photograph of the woman the Rosie poster was believed to have been based on, and immediately knew it was her.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Fraley told the Oakland Tribune in 2016. “I knew it was actually me in the photo.”
Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai tweeted out a message in recognition of Fraley on Tuesday, sharing a picture of the real Rosie with the iconic poster.
RIP, Naomi Parker Fraley: during WWII, she was photographed while working in the machine shop of the @USNavy station in Alameda, CA, and was the real “Rosie the Riveter”–but was only recognized as such in 2016. https://t.co/7ay2qwRKaU pic.twitter.com/FXRbslAVNe
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) January 22, 2018
For decades before, a Michigan woman named Geraldine Hoff Doyle had been believed to be the woman wearing work clothes and polka dot bandana in the picture. However, in 2016, Seton Hall University Professor James Kimble published an article called “Rosie’s Secret Identity,” which debunked Doyle’s claims and identified Fraley as the real Rosie.
In the original photo obtained by Kimble, the caption read, “Pretty Naomi Parker looks like she might catch her nose in the turret lathe she is operating.”
Joe Blankenship, Fraley’s son, said he’s glad his mom got the recognition she deserves after so many years.
“I grew up with this woman, so she was special to me because of who she was,” Blankenship said.
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