Rosina C. “Rose” <I>Bonavita</I> Hickey


Rosina C. “Rose” Bonavita Hickey

Peekskill, Westchester County, New York, USA
Death 1 Jan 1996 (aged 73)
Hilton Head Plantation, Beaufort County, South Carolina, USA
Burial Cortlandt, Westchester County, New York, USA
Plot Section H, Plot H, Grave 2
Memorial ID 144078174 View Source
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American Folk Figure - Original “Rosie the Riveter” While three women lay claim to the title “Rosie the Riveter,” one stands out from the rest. That is Rosina (Rose) Bonavita Hickey. The song “Rosie the Riveter” was written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb in 1942 and released it in 1943 as a generic dedication to the women working in the various factories producing equipment for the war effort; particularly those working as riveters on aircraft, notably in New York and California. But it was Rose Bonavita (along with her team partner (and cousin) Jennie Fiorito,) who brought this caricature to life when newspapers around the country reported on their astonishing accomplishment of flawlessly drilling 900 lap joint holes, fitting the skins together and driving 3,345 rivets in Avenger torpedo bombers within eight hours at the Eastern Aircraft plant of General Motors in Tarrytown. The front page of the New York Sun read: "Rosie and Jennie set Rivet Record" and Rose Bonavita’s life was never the same. However, some historians state that it was Rosalind (“Roz”) Walker who was the inspiration for the song. Another Rosie, Rose Will Monroe, was discovered at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Ypsalanti, Michigan by actor Walter Pidgeon who hired her to appear in a War Bond promotional movie, thereby giving her credit as the original Rosie. Geraldine Hoff Doyle posed as the model for the iconic poster created to laud the accomplishments of these women as well as to recruit more. Over the course of the war, nearly 19 million women became “Rosies.” In 2000, the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park was opened at the former Kaiser shipyard in Richmond, California. In her personal life, Rose lived most of her seventy-three years in the same house in a tight-knit, Italian-Irish Catholic neighborhood in Peekskill. After attending Assumption School and Peekskill High School, she worked at a laundry. Her high school sweetheart James Hickey had joined the Navy and Rosie rode with his parents to his basic training graduation. On the way home they heard the news about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After the war, Rosie became a housewife and devoted mother to the couple’s three children, James, Jr., Joseph and Rosemarie. When her son, Dr. Joseph Hickey and his wife Lisa moved to Hilton Head in 1994, Rosie went them; James had passed away in 1992. She was debilitated by osteoporosis, but remained a fighter and never complained. Her son became convinced her bones were weakened from lead the rivets were made from. (His internal medicine practice included removing toxins from the body.) Lisa Hickey found Rosie at eternal rest when she went to wake her on New Year's morning 1996. Her remains were returned to Peekskill (now the Town of Cortlandt) where she was interred with her beloved husband.

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  • Created by: Gary Urbanowicz
  • Added: 23 Mar 2015
  • Find a Grave Memorial 144078174
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rosina C. “Rose” Bonavita Hickey (18 Oct 1922–1 Jan 1996), Find a Grave Memorial ID 144078174, citing Assumption Cemetery, Cortlandt, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Gary Urbanowicz (contributor 47731674) .