It all started with a Rose....
'Rosie the Riveter' Floribunda Rose
In early 2019, Leslie Deese Garvis, President of the Fort Worth Rose Society, discovered the Rosie the Riveter Rose created by Weeks Roses in order to honor the women who served on the Homefront during WWII. Being passionate about roses and recognizing women who have contributed to society, developing a Rosie Memorial Garden became a passion for Mrs. Garvis and she set about finding the perfect location to bring her vision to life.
Leslie approached Chuckie Hospers, Director of the Vintage Flying Museum at Meacham Airport in Fort Worth, Texas about creating a Rosie Memorial Garden at her museum. The mission of the Vintage Flying Museum is to preserve America's aviation history through education and hands on experience with vintage aircraft. The museum not only houses many of the aircraft that were built by Rosie the Riveters but is also managed by a woman, so it was a perfect fit! Mrs. Hospers enthusiastically agreed to having the museum become the location of Tarrant County's First Rosie the Riveter Memorial Garden.
The Fort Worth Chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association was formed to oversee the development and maintenance the Garden. The board is made up of several like minded local women who have the passion for remembering the woman who gave so much for our country and deserve to be recognized.
Once a site was selected, the board began working on the design of the garden. The goal was to create a living memorial that would showcase the Rosie the Riveter Roses and also give museum and community visitors a place to gather, relax with family and honor these women. Located at the entrance of the Vintage Flying Museum, the Rosie Memorial Garden is the first thing you see when you arrive at the museum.
On July 12, 2019, the community came together to celebrate the ground breaking of the Rosie Memorial Garden. Haltom City resident, Rosie Wilda Stephens, was joined by local community leaders to shovel the first dirt on the site that was to become the first Rosie Memorial Garden in Tarrant County.
Fort Worth Mayor, Betsy Price spoke to a crowd of about a 150 about how important the Rosies where to the war effort and how these women paved the way for women today. “There are thousands of women working at Lockheed, doing exactly the same job the men are doing,” Price said. “Rosie the Riveters are responsible for making that lasting legacy.” Mayor Price even credits the Rosies for her being able to serve as mayor of Fort Worth today. “It’s all of you who have gone before us and opened the door for us,” Price said. Kristen Vandergrif from Rep. Kay Granger's office, North Richland Hills Mayor Oscar Trevino, Haltom City Mayor Tran Haung and several local city commissions also joined our Rosie guest of honor to celebrate this historic event.
The Vintage Flying Museum is the current home of the Commemorative Air Force's Boeing B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" and Consolidated B-24A Liberator "Diamond Lil". Mrs. Stephens was responsible for the first B-24 wing that came off the assembly line at the Fort Worth Consolidated Aircraft plant which is now the home of Lockheed. Wilda signed the inside of the B-24 and you can see her signature along with signatures of other Rosies inside Diamond Lil. Both of these aircraft are still flying today as part of the CAF's Airpower History Tour. To learn more about these two historic aircraft and how to book a ride flightt, visit the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron's website at www.cafb29b24.org.
A special thank you to James Hartley of the Star Telegram for covering this event. James has a passion for history and our veterans and helped us document this important occasion. You can read his full story at the link here.