Click photo to enlarge
World War II defense workers Priscilla Elder, 93, of Pinole, Marian Wynn, 87, of Fairfield, Kay Morrison, 90, of Fairfield, Marian Sousa, 87, of El Sobrante, and Phyllis Gould, 92, of Fairfax, left to right, pose for a portrait at the Rosie the Riveter Visitors Center in Richmond, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. The women, also known as "Rosies," got an invitation to visit the White House and meet Vice-President Joe Biden after Gould wrote to him. (Jane Tyska//Bay Area News Group Archives)

RICHMOND -- Fundraising efforts have begun in earnest to send five women who served as defense workers in World War II to Washington, D.C., in April to meet Vice President Joe Biden.

The invitation was extended by Biden in a personal phone call in October after an extended letter-writing campaign of several years by Phyllis Gould, 92, a Fairfax resident who worked at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards during World War II.

Biden invited Gould and her sister, Marian Sousa, 87, of El Sobrante; Marian Wynn, 87, of Fairfield; Kay Morrison, 90, of Fairfield; and Priscilla Elder, 93, of Pinole to meet him as representatives of the thousands of women who broke workplace conventions to do their part during the war. All the women worked in the Richmond shipyards helping to build Liberty and Victory cargo ships.

The Rosie the Riveter Trust is supporting the trip by using its nonprofit status to allow the collection of individual donations by the five Rosies and five assistants, tentatively planned for the first week of April.

The Rosies are a popular attraction each Friday at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park visitors center, where they discuss their wartime experiences with the public.

National Park Service rules forbid the Richmond park's active participation in sending the Rosies to the nation's capital, and tax rules prevent the five from collecting donations themselves. That's where the trust, a private support organization for the national park, enters the picture.


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"We are the supporting organization providing a nonprofit status," said Marsha Mather-Thrift, executive director of the Rosie the Riveter Trust. "The park is not sponsoring the trip, but the trust is very supportive because they are very deserving. They are really a wonderful and interesting contingent. It's a great opportunity, and we're very excited about it."

The Rosies, with a collective 449 years between them, need assistants to accompany them. If nothing else, "the helpers are essential because we can't boost our own luggage any more," said Gould, who hoisted welding equipment during the war.

"With all the letters I wrote, I never stopped to think what would happen if they actually answered me," she said.

Individual donations can be made by going to rosietheriveter.org, clicking the "Donate Now" button and specifying "Rosie's Fund" in the box asking who the gift is dedicated for.

Contributions can also be mailed to Rosie the Riveter Trust, attention Rosie's Fund, P.O. Box 71126, Richmond, CA 94807-1126.

Any funds in excess of the cost of the trip "will be used to support the trust's public education programs that amplify the park's history and tell stories of workers who broke barriers in order to inspire others," Mather-Thrift said.

how to help
Individual donations to send the Rosies to Washington, D.C., can be made by going to rosietheriveter.org, clicking the "Donate Now" button and specifying "Rosie's Fund" in the box asking who the gift is dedicated for.
Contributions can also be mailed to Rosie the Riveter Trust, attention Rosie's Fund, P.O. Box 71126, Richmond, CA 94807-1126.