One of original Rosie the Riveters dies at 93 in Livonia

- Sarah Mahrle was one of the thousands of women who held down the home front during World War II, rolling up her sleeves in a show of patriotism.

Now, her is remembering Mahrle as one of the original Rosie the Riveters, and the legacy she leaves behind.

Losing a parent at any age is tough, but Mary McGrath couldn't be prouder of the life her mother lived.

"I will miss her dearly but I'll cherish her memories," she says. Those memories about her 93-year-old mother are also considered part of history.

McGrath says she didn't learn about her mother's Rosie the Riveters history until she was older. At 18, Mahrle went to work at the Willow Run Airport where the B-24 bombers were built.

"She said, 'Did you know women were allowed to finally wear pants to work?' and she thought that was cool. She didn't get to because she was in the secretarial staff, but the ladies that actually did the riveting were allowed to wear pants. She thought that was cool," McGrath says.

More than 300,000 women took on jobs traditionally done by men in the aircraft industry, earning the name Rosie the Riverters. Her mother told her it was the right thing to do.

"She said, 'I was allowed into the Willow Run plant when all the Hollywood stars would come to town to sell war bonds.' She said everybody supported the war; there were no factions; they did everything to bring those young men home," McGrath says.

But what was even more special -- that's where Mahrle  would meet her husband.

"They were married in 1944 and they had 60 years together. She credits the war and the Willow Run bomber plant the opportunity to meet my dad," McGrath says.

Mahrle lost her husband about a dozen years ago, but her daughter says she continued to live an active life, enjoying her family and friends, crafting and cooking. And in March 2016, she was able to recieve an unexpected honor.

Mahrle was one of 30 Rosie the Riverters who were flown to Washington, D.C. to be honored for their service. McGrath says as they toured D.C., throngs of people waved flags and cheered the women who helped to empower so many.

"These ladies just loved it," McGrath says. "She was overwhelemed. She said, 'I don't deserve this; this is what you do.' It just amazed her."

Mahrle had a stroke at St. Mary's Hospital in Livonia Monday morning.

Her funeral is friday at the Christ Our Savior Luther Church in Livonia.

 

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