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'Rosie the Riveter' inspiration, philanthropist Rosalind P. Walter dies at 95

Walter had helped inspire the war era song 'Rosie the Riveter,' and was a significant supporter of public television.

NEW YORK — A woman known as the first Rosie the Riveter has died at the age of 95.

Rosalind P. Walter, who was also a significant funder of PBS, died on Wednesday, according to several news outlets.

Walter was a wealthy child who had worked on an assembly line during World War II, The New York Times and others report. She inspired the “Rosie the Riveter” song, about a civilian woman being employed in the war industry to help support the United States in the Allied fight.

WNET reports that at the time, Walter was a Long Island woman working as a riveter on Corsair fighter planes. The local New York PBS TV station also says she was a longtime trustee and public television supporter for more than 30 years.

The "real" Rosie the Riveter was California waitress Naomi Parker Fraley, who died in 2018. A 1942 newspaper photograph of Fraley working at a naval shipyard had inspired the iconic, enduring wartime poster created by graphic artist J. Howard Miller.

But Walter is known as the "first," being a source for the song's creation.

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The Rosalind P. Walter Foundation helped many programs and series including “PBS NewsHour Weekend” and “Amanpour and Company,” as well as the work of Ken and Ric Burns.

WNET President and CEO Neal Shapiro said in a note to trustees on Wednesday, “Roz told me many times that she considered WNET to be her family…and so today we mourn the loss of a valued Trustee and dear family member.”

Walter died at her home in Manhattan, her friend Richard Somerset-Ward told the Times.

Editor's note: The video above about Fraley was published in January 2018.

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Artist J. Howard Miller produced this work-incentive poster for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company.