Posts Tagged ‘Richmond CA’

The last Liberty steams out of Richmond

posted on July 4, 2014

Henry J. Kaiser was in his Richmond, California shipyards the week of July 4, 1944 for the launch of the last Liberty class ship, the S.S. Benjamin Warner. “The West Coast came to the melancholy end of a shipbuilding era last week,” said the reporter at Time Magazine, July 10, 1944. “In Kaiser’s record-holding Richmond Shipbuilding Corp. Yard No. 2 in California, the S.S. Benjamin Warner (named after the father of Hollywood’s Warner brothers) slid into San Francisco Bay. It was the 1,147th Liberty ship launched on the West Coast—and the last. A few Liberties are still being finished at East Coast yards. But no more keels will be laid, East or West.”

The S.S. Benjamin Warner, July 1, 1944

The S.S. Benjamin Warner, July 1, 1944

Launch of the S.S. Benjamin Warner, July 1, 1944

LAUNCH the newsreel

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Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland start off Home Front Film Festival with ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’

posted on June 9, 2014

World War II-era movies to be shown
on Red Oak Victory throughout summer

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland star in ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood,” to open the World War II Home Front Film Festival on the SS Red Oak Victory this Thursday. Wikimedia photo

The Sixth Annual World War II Home Front Film Festival gets under way this Thursday, June 12, on the SS Red Oak Victory, which is berthed at the former Kaiser Shipyard No. 3 in Richmond, California.

Sponsored by the Rosie the Riveter national park and the Richmond Museum of History, the summer festival begins with “The Adventures of Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.

The 1938 Academy Award-winning film doesn’t have an obvious connection to World War II, but there is one, and it’s not that Errol Flynn was rumored to be a Nazi sympathizer.

National Park Ranger Craig Reardon, host for the festival, will let you in on the largely unknown connection in his introduction to the film.

The SS Red Oak Victory, one of the 747 ships built at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards during World War II, has been restored and made available for tours and special events.

A series of six classic films will be shown in one of the ship’s holds two Thursdays a month in June, July and August.

Boarding the SS Red Oak via the gang plank begins at 6:30 p.m.; the film begins at 7 p.m.

Filling out the screening schedule are:

  • June 26: “Buck Privates” (1941), a silly comedy starring Bud Abbot and Lou Costello with music by the Andrew Sisters. This is the film that made Abbot and Costello bonafide movie stars.
  • July 10: “Casablanca” (1942), starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. In the Home Front film festival tradition, come dressed as your favorite character from the movie.
  • July 24: “Across the Pacific” (1942), starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. Bogart plays a character who makes you wonder if he is a traitor or a hero.
  • Aug. 7: “A Guy Named Joe” (1943), starring Spencer Tracy as a reckless bomber pilot stationed in England. Van Johnson plays a novice pilot who needs Joe’s help.
  • Aug. 21: “Harvey” (1944/1950), a film based on the 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning play written by Mary Chase to cheer up a neighbor who lost her son in the Pacific Theater in World War II.
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello star in 'Buck Privates" (1941), to be shown at the Home Front Film Festival June 26. Wikimedia photo

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello star in ‘Buck Privates” (1941), to be shown at the Home Front Film Festival June 26. Wikimedia photo

The historic ship is located at 1337 Canal Blvd., Berth 6A, Richmond. For directions, call 510-237-2922 or visit the Red Oak Victory Web site. Filmgoers will be asked for a donation to board the ship.

The ship is not ADA accessible; visitors must be able to climb the gangplank (40 feet of steps with railing) and negotiate steep steps down to the hold.

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World War II Home Front national park welcomes crowd to new galleries

posted on May 27, 2014

Kaiser Permanente’s birthplace in Richmond
wartime shipyards noted in historical exhibit

Click on any image to see a slideshow.
To close the slideshow and return to this page, click on “X” in upper
left of slideshow page.

Photos by Ginny McPartland

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San Francisco Bay Trail turns walking/bicycling into cultural experiences

posted on May 23, 2014

After 25 years, 500-mile project
boasts 355 miles of trekking track;
celebrates milestone Saturday

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

sf-bay-trail-richmond-2

San Francisco Bay Trail, Richmond

Walking is good for just about everything that ails you, whether you’re young, old, or in between. Tomorrow (May 24) the San Francisco Bay Trail celebrates 25 years of encouraging residents and visitors to get out and use their feet to see the bay and all its natural treasures up close.

The Bay Trail celebration coincides with the unveiling of new exhibits at the Rosie the Riveter National Park’s Visitor Education Center. The joint party will be on the waterfront in Richmond, Calif., beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Fittingly, the Bay Trail organization is releasing its new smartphone application, Point, simultaneously, The mobile app will allow visitors to log in and get a narrated tour of 17 points of interest along the 2.5 miles of the trail adjacent to the Rosie park.

The Richmond Bay Trail smartphone audio tour, first in a series to be released for Point this summer, starts at the Visitor Education Center at 1414 South Harbour Way, Richmond, and ends at the Shimada Friendship Park.

Mobile interpretive tours will be released for trails along the Napa River near American Canyon and for Alviso and Novato sites.

The San Francisco Bay Trail Project, begun in 1989, is a planned 500-mile walking and bicycling trail. When completed, the trail will encircle the entire San Francisco Bay and will link the shorelines of all nine Bay Area counties, 47 cities and all seven major toll bridges in the region.

So far, 355 miles have been completed and provide access to points of historic, natural and cultural interest, as well as 130 parks and wildlife preserves totaling 57,000 acres of open space.

One of the new exhibits in the Rosie the Riveter visitors center: Rosie takes a break for lunch. Photo by Ginny McPartland

One of the new exhibits in the Rosie the Riveter visitors center: Rosie takes a break for lunch. Photo by Ginny McPartland

After the ceremonies, beginning at 11 a.m., visitors can enjoy a tour of the new Visitor Center exhibits, and participate in a scavenger hunt with great prizes and a WWII-era costume contest. Food will be available for sale and there will be live music.

For directions to the event, see this link: www.nps.gov/rori/planyourvisit/directions.htm

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Shipyard life portrayed in creative installations at Home Front park

posted on May 21, 2014

National Park Service to open historical
exhibits following 10 a.m. ceremony
Saturday, May 24, on waterfront in Richmond, Calif.

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To close the slideshow and return to this page, click on “X” in upper
left of slideshow page.

Photos by Ginny McPartland

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Ceremony to unveil permanent exhibits at California WWII Home Front park on May 24

posted on May 10, 2014

SS Red Oak Victory pancake brunch cool option
for Mother’s Day: SF Bay Trail celebrates 25 years

Visitors Education Center preview in 2012. Temporary exhibits have been replaced with new interactive displays.

Rosie the Riveter national park Visitor Education Center preview in 2012. Temporary exhibits have been replaced with new interactive displays to be unveiled to the public May 24. Photo by Joe Paolazzi

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Rosie the Riveter’s dance card is full for the next two weeks at her namesake national historical park in Richmond, Calif.

The signature event is the Memorial Weekend unveiling of the park’s permanent, interactive historical exhibits on Saturday, May 24, at the Visitor Education Center. Park staff will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m.

Visitors are invited to participate in various programs offered throughout the day. For more information and directions, you may call: 510-232-5050 Ext. 0, or go to the park Web site.

After the ribbon-cutting, San Francisco Bay Trail officials will stage a 25th anniversary celebration of the 500-mile walking, biking and hiking trail.

Park officials advise arriving early because seating is limited for both events. They also urge visitors to dress warm for the cool and windy weather usual on the waterfront in the morning.

Mother’s Day can be a breeze

SS Red Oak Victory is the site of a Mother's Day pancake brunch Sunday.

SS Red Oak Victory is the site of a Mother’s Day pancake brunch Sunday.

Enjoy Mother’s Day pancake brunch this Sunday (May 11) sitting on the deck of the SS Red Oak Victory docked on the Richmond waterfront. The ship, built in Henry Kaiser’s World War II shipyards, is on the site of the former Shipyard No. 3.

A full breakfast will be served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $7 per person.  Children under 5 eat for free.

Red Oak volunteers will give tours of the ship for an additional fee of $5 per person. The SS Red Oak Victory is berthed at 1337 Canal Blvd, Berth 6A, in Richmond.

The Richmond Museum of History operates a museum and gift shop within the Red Oak’s hold.  For more information, call 510-237-2933.

Film festival features “Swing Shift” on May 15

Also coming up is a showing of “Swing Shift,” a World War II movie starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell as California aircraft production workers who find romance on the Home Front.

This is the last in a series of historical films shown on the Red Oak Victory this spring.  The 1984 movie will be screened at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 15. Admission is $5.

More to see at historical park

The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park offers a full schedule of ongoing programs. For example, films are shown in the visitors center theater every day.

Rosie the Riveter park visitor center on opening day in 2012. Permanent exhibits will be unveiled May 24.

Rosie the Riveter park visitor center on opening day in 2012. The center’s historical exhibits have been refreshed this spring.

Visitor center docents present programs covering many World War II themes, including the Japanese American internment, food rationing, the African American war experience, toys of the 1940s, dogs for defense and more.

On Fridays, visitors have the opportunity to meet real-life Rosies and hear their stories. “Rosie Meet and Greet” is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. in the visitors center.

The park visitor center, located behind the historic Ford Assembly Building, is open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 1414 Harbour Way South, Richmond.

For more information: (510) 232-5050 x0, or visit the park Web site.

Home Front quilt show at Richmond museum

The Richmond Museum of History in downtown Richmond is exhibiting the Quilts of the World War II Home Front through June 6. Admission is $5.

Quilting expert Mary Mashuta will present “A Conversation about Story Quilts” from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 18, at the museum, 400 Nevin Ave., Richmond. The program is included with the admission fee.

For more information, call 510-235-7387 or visit the museum’s Web site.

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Girls coming of age inspired by Rosies’ ‘We Can Do It’ promise

posted on April 10, 2014

Gala guests to fete traveling Rosies; SF Bay Area girls to benefit

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Terra and Angelica work on a circuitry exercise in a workshop led by the Girls Scouts. Rosies' Girls photo

Terra and Angelica work on a circuitry exercise in a workshop led by the Girls Scouts. Rosies’ Girls photo

Rosie the Riveters who broke gender barriers to join the World War II production industry 70 years ago leave a legacy that directly influences the career opportunities of today’s young women.

The older (85-plus) generation’s work experience is especially poignant for those who are coming of age in former war town Richmond, California, where many of the youth are disadvantaged and susceptible to questionable life paths.

It’s fitting then that female Kaiser Shipyard workers, six honored in the Obama White House last week, should be feted at the Rosie the Riveter Trust annual fundraising gala, whose main beneficiary is Rosie’s Girls, a career development program whose catchphrase is: Building Strong Girls.

The Rosie the Riveter Trust supports the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in its work to collect and tell the stories of the Home Front and to preserve historical sites in the Bay Area and the nation.

The park is installing permanent educational exhibits at its Visitor’s Education Center in Richmond, which will be unveiled and opened to the public at the end of May.

Restored cannery setting for fundraiser

The fundraising party is set for 6 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the F&P Cannery, 1200 Harbour Bay South, Richmond. The restored cannery is near the Kaiser Shipyard site where workers built 747 cargo ships for the Allied Forces in the 1940s and where the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan was born.

Keynote speaker: Christina Goldfuss, NPS, deputy director, Congressional and External Affairs. National Park Service photo

Keynote speaker: Christina Goldfuss, National Park Service deputy director, Congressional and External Affairs. National Park Service photo

Keynote speaker will be Christina Goldfuss, National Park Service deputy director for Congressional and External Affairs.  Ms. Goldfuss, a former staffer on the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, took on her new role in November of 2013.

Goldfuss has also served as director of the Public Lands Project for the Center for American Progress, and she has experience as a television news reporter in California, Nevada and Virginia.

JAC’s Vocal Trio will entertain the gala revelers with World War II era songs, likely including “Smooth Sailing,” the official launching song of the Kaiser Shipyards.

For dinner tickets, contact the Rosie the Riveter Trust.

Also this weekend at the Rosie park:

The SS Red Oak Victory volunteers are cooking up the first Pancake Breakfast of 2014 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday (April 13) on the ship berthed at 1337 Canal Blvd, Berth 6A, Richmond. For information, call 510-237-2933.

The ship volunteers have been working on the Red Oak all winter and they are excited to show off their progress. The breakfast proceeds ($7 per person) will help continue the ship’s restoration. Tours of the ship are offered for an additional $5.

The volunteers’ work is chronicled in a new photo exhibit at the Richmond Harbormaster’s Building. The show is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through April 30.

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Rosie-the-Riveter contingent to visit the White House Monday

posted on March 27, 2014

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Phyllis Gould, sister Marge and sister Marian and husband, ca 1944

Phyllis Gould, sister Jean, sister Marian and husband, Richmond, Calif., ca 1944

To anyone who knows Phyllis Gould, it’s no surprise that at age 92 she’s making news. As a woman who’s lived her life with fierce independence and fearlessness, her persistence in gaining recognition in the White House for female World War II defense workers is merely her latest exploit.

Gould is the organizer of a week-long trip to Washington, D.C., for a group of California “Rosie the Riveters,” beginning this Saturday.

The Rosie tour group, including Gould’s little sister Marian Sousa, 88, have been invited to meet Vice President Joe Biden in his office on Monday.

Phyllis’ dogged letter-writing campaign, conducted over the years of the Obama presidency, finally hit paydirt last month when Biden phoned her to extend a personal invitation to the nation’s capital city.

“They (Biden’s office) called me the day before to tell me when he would call. I picked up the phone and he said ‘Phyllis, this is Joe Biden, Vice President Biden.”

Biden continued: “I know you were hired in the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, Calif., as one of the first six women welders. That’s pretty impressive kid!”

Paving the way for today’s women

Phyllis Gould ca 1944

Phyllis Gould ca 1944

Thrilled by the Biden invitation, Gould is quick to explain the motivation of her quest. “This isn’t about personal glory. “I wanted this visit to bring attention to the fact that our generation had to struggle to earn the right to work in a man’s world,” she said. “Young women need to know this history and realize we paved the way for them. I think that knowledge has been lost.”

Gould, a farm girl from Eugene, Oregon, was one of the first women welders admitted to the Boilermakers Union in Richmond, Calif., and to be hired in the Kaiser shipyards in July 1942.

She first earned the status of journeyman (proficient) welder by passing a prescribed test in her first year in the shipyard. Later, she was one of only a few workers – male or female – who achieved U.S. Navy certification as a welder during World War II.[i]

A long life of adventures

In the 70 years since her defense industry stint, Phyllis Gould married a burner-turned-hairdresser, raised five children, worked as a government inspector in an ammunition factory and achieved success as an interior decorator.[ii]

She built her own cabin in rural Bolinas near the Sonoma Coast, where her daughters attended high school. Over the years, she has collected discarded bits of fabric and other materials to create clothing and countless pieces of folk art and paintings.

Phyllis Gould and Marian Sousa, the McKey sisters, both worked at the Richmond Kaiser Shipyards during World War II. Lynn Mundell photo

Phyllis Gould and Marian Sousa, two of the McKey sisters, both worked at the Richmond Kaiser Shipyards during World War II. Lynn Mundell photo

For a time in the 1970s, she immersed herself in Native American history and culture and wore her hair in two long braids with feather ties at the ends. She traveled to a Nebraska reservation where she participated in a private, tribe-members-only sun dance, and the next year went on a class field trip to visit Native American sites in Arizona.

In the late 1970s, she became friends with the rock group The Tubes through a mutual friend in San Francisco and has been to many of their shows and been invited back stage to hang out with the band. She also attended a Tubes recording session in Los Angeles.

She traveled on her own in her pickup truck/camper to all 50 states, including Alaska, where she worked for seven summers in the 1980s as a cook for the staff of Denali National Park.

Phyllis was one of the few West Coast shipyard workers whose story was told through an audio clip and photos at the D-Day Museum in New Orleans.

She’s been interviewed about her life as a Rosie many times over the past 10 years as the Rosie the Riveter national park and UC Berkeley staff have developed materials that document life in the shipyards.

Phyllis and husband Buster on their Harley-Davidson, ca 1939

Phyllis and husband Buster on their Harley-Davidson, ca 1939

Pre-World War II life

A look at Phyllis’ pre-World War II life shows how roles and opportunities for women in the 1930s and 1940s were limited.

A carefree 17-year-old who loved to go barefoot, Phyllis McKey Gould quit school in 1938 and shortly thereafter answered: “Sure!” when her boyfriend of three years asked quite casually: “Wanna get married tomorrow?”

The couple set up household in a tiny cottage, had a baby boy and she lived the traditional life of a 1930s housewife with her husband as breadwinner and the man of the house. She cooked, cleaned and took care of the baby while he worked in a sawmill.

They bought a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle by saving from his 37.5- cents-per-hour Depression-era wage.  Today she recalls learning to drive the cycle but never mastering the skill.

The couple followed a friend to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1939 and when the U.S. entered the war in 1941, Phyllis was drawn inexorably to the seemingly wild and exciting idea of working as a welder in the shipyards.

The war changed everything

Phyllis Gould during World War II

Phyllis Gould during World War II

“Every Sunday we went for a Sunday drive. And this one Sunday, the guys in the front seat were talking about going to welding school and getting a job in the shipyards.

“And I piped up and said, “That’s what I want to do, too.” And I don’t think (her husband) believed me. He certainly didn’t approve of it.”

Her husband learned the craft, joined the union and become a shipyard welder. For Phyllis, the road to that well-paying job was a bit bumpier.

One day shortly after she finished welder training, she took the bus to the hiring hall in Oakland. “They said: ‘You have to join the Boilermakers Union.’ So I went to the union hall.

“It was a dark place and there was this big man dressed in dark clothes, and he just said, “No. We don’t take women or blacks.”

But Phyllis didn’t give up. She went back again the next day and was again told no. The third time she was again turned away but was surprised by a man who told her to go up to the window and apply again – and this time she was hired.

Later she learned that the Boilermakers had just adopted a new policy to accept women because workers of all kinds were sorely needed as the shipyards ramped up production in mid-1942.

When she made journeyman less than a year later, her husband wasn’t happy. “Here’s this proud man who expected to be the head of his household, take care of his family, and here I am. I’m doing the same work he’s doing and I’m getting the same pay for it.”

Phyllis looks back on her failed marriage without regret: “If the war had not come along and I hadn’t gone to work I would have stayed with him, not knowing any better. And been kind of a pale shadow of what I became.”

Asserting her independence in the years following her shipyard experience, today Phyllis finds herself as someone who doesn’t shrink from dogging the White House until her message is heard.

bit.ly/1jBuSnd


[i] While working later in the war at the Todd Shipyards in Houston, Texas, Phyllis Gould became a Navy-certified welder.

[ii] Burner: one who cuts metal on ships with a torch.

 

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VP Biden plays host to women who worked in wartime shipyards

posted on March 27, 2014

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Marian and Loyd Wynn, 1944

Marian and Loyd Wynn, 1944. Marian worked as a pipe welder in the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards during WWII.

Six San Francisco Bay Area women will represent female World War II defense workers across the nation when they travel next week to Washington, D.C., to be honored by Vice President Joe Biden.

Thousands of American women, as teenagers and young adults 70 years ago, stepped out of their traditional roles during World War II to build ships, aircraft and other war materiel crucial to Allied victory in 1945. Like the men who fought the war, the ranks of defense workers are thinning out more every day.

Phyllis Gould, 92, a welder in the Richmond Kaiser Shipyards in the 1940s, resolved six years ago to arrange for a group of Rosies to go to the White House. Following Gould’s relentless letter-writing campaign, they’re leaving Saturday and will meet Biden in his office on Monday.

Here are brief biographies of the women making the trip:

Priscilla Elder, 93, an electrician in the Richmond Kaiser Shipyards, was the third of 11 children raised in Iowa. Priscilla followed her older sister to Richmond after her husband was drafted and sent to fight in Europe with the Third Army under Gen. George S. Patton.

Her twin sister followed Priscilla to California, and they both were hired as electricians to wire circuit boxes on troop transport ships built at Kaiser Shipyard No. 3. Priscilla’s 22-month-old son attended the Maritime Child Development Center, which was renovated in 2010 and reopened as a preschool.

Journeyman welder Kay Morrison, 2014

Journeyman welder Kay Morrison, 2014

Kay Morrison, 90, a native of Chico, Calif., came to Richmond with her carpenter husband in 1941 to find work. Her husband Ray was hired right away in Shipyard No. 2. She wanted to become a welder but at first she couldn’t get a job because the Boilermakers Union was not yet accepting women.

In 1943, she was hired as a welder and worked the graveyard shift in Shipyard No. 3 with her husband. The couple lived in San Francisco and commuted to Richmond by ferry. After three months, she took the test to become a journeyman (proficient) welder.

After the war, Ray continued his work in shipbuilding and Kay eventually went to work at Bank of America where she was employed for 30 years and retired in 1984 as bank manager.

Priscilla

Priscilla Elder, electrician in Kaiser Richmond Shipyards during World War II.

Marian Sousa, 88, a draftsman in the Engineering Department, is Phyllis Gould’s younger sister. She came down to Richmond from Eugene, Ore., to take care of Phyllis’s young son. After graduating from high school, she took a drafting course at UC Berkeley and was hired to make blueprint revisions at Shipyard No. 2.

Another sister, Marge, arrived later and got a job as a welder; the girls’ mother, Mildred, followed later when her husband, a career military man, was posted to Camp Stoneman near Pittsburg, Calif.  She put her youngest daughter in child care and went to work at the shipyards as a painter.

Phyllis and her husband bought a house in San Pablo that, though small, housed the whole extended family. The beds were in use around the clock as family members alternately slept and worked a shift at the shipyards.

Marian Wynn, 87, like Priscilla Elder, was the third child in a family of 11 raised in the Midwest. Her father migrated from Minnesota to Richmond, Calif., in 1942 to become an electrician lead man in Kaiser Shipyard No. 3. She wanted to follow her father right away but agreed to wait until she finished high school.

After graduation, she traveled by bus to Richmond and was hired as a pipe welder in West Storage in Shipyard No. 3. After the war, she didn’t return to Minnesota because she met and married her husband, a Navy man stationed at Treasure Island near San Francisco.

Journeyman welder Agnes Moore, 2014

Journeyman welder Agnes Moore, 2014

Agnes Moore, 94, grew up on a farm in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, the sixth of seven children. She came to California in 1942 to visit her brother and sister. While driving in San Francisco, she heard a radio advertisement for shipyard workers.

“Women, do something for your country. Go to Richmond shipyard and become a welder,” she recalls the radio announcer saying. The ad spurred her to drive over to Richmond and apply. She was hired in 1942, and in 1943 she passed the test to become a journeyman welder. Agnes worked in the shipyard until the end of the war in 1945, longer than the average Rosie.

bit.ly/1i1vugo

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Deputy NPS director to speak at Rosie dinner

posted on March 11, 2014
Peggy O'Dell, NPS, deputy director for operations. NPS photo

Peggy O’Dell, NPS, deputy director for operations. NPS photo

Margaret “Peggy” O’Dell, deputy director of the National Park Service operations, will be keynote speaker at the Rosie the Riveter Trust annual gala dinner at the former Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, Calif.

The fundraising dinner, Saturday, April 12, will feature a champagne reception, fine wine and a gourmet dinner.  The event will be in the F&P Cannery building at 1200 Harbour Way South on the Richmond waterfront.

O’Dell, whose career with the NPS has spanned 30 years, was appointed deputy director in January of 2011. She served as regional director of the National Capital Region for the previous two years and before that she was the superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C.

She began her National Park Service career as a seasonal interpreter at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Mo. – when she was a history student at the University of Missouri.

O’Dell has also held positions at Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Southern Missouri, Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota, and Harpers Ferry Center in West Virginia. In 2004, she returned to the Jefferson National Expansion Monument as superintendent.

O’Dell, at left, helps pull a line on the Friendship of Salem at the Salem Maritime Historical Site in Massachusetts during the youth summit held in August 2011. Photo by Tim Ertel

O’Dell, at left, helps pull a line on the Friendship of Salem at the Salem Maritime Historic Site in Massachusetts during the youth summit held in August 2011. Photo by Tim Ertel

As NPS deputy superintendent, O’Dell plays a major role in managing a $3.1 billion budget and more than 20,000 employees that serve in 394 national parks and offices around the country.

She oversees every aspect of park operations including the preservation and protection of 84 million acres, 100 million museum objects, 37,000 historic structures, 85,000 miles of rivers and streams, as well as services for the more than 285 million people who visit the national parks every year.

Besides the parks, O’Dell is also responsible for the NPS community-based historic preservation programs, from the National Register of Historic Places, to national heritage areas, to a tax credit program that encourages private investment to rehabilitate historic buildings for new uses.

If interested in attending the dinner, contact the Rosie the Riveter Trust.

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