Phyllis Gould, One of the Original 'Rosie the Riveters,' Dies at 99: 'She Did It All'

“She flexed her muscles on the telephone every day telling Congress to move forward on recognition of the Rosies," Rep. Jackie Speier said of Phyllis Gould

Phyllis Gould-Rosie the Riveters
Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock

Phyllis Gould, a welder who was one of the first "Rosie the Riveters" to be hired during World War II, died from complications of a stroke on July 20. She was 99.

"She has been an 'I can do it' person all her life, and she passed that on to all of us," her granddaughter, Shannon Akerstrom, told the Associated Press. "The Rosie thing — that was really her."

Gould, along with 5 million other civilian women, stepped in to help the defense industry and other sectors after America entered World War II. Men who held positions in those fields were sent to fight in the war, while some 350,000 women also served in uniform, according to the Department of Defense.

The campaign to recruit women into the defense industries is largely remembered for the iconic "Rosie the Riveter" poster, which features a woman curling her bicep while wearing a red and white polka dot bandana in front of a yellow background.

The "Rosie" name became synonymous with the women who entered the workforce during the war, and Gould — who worked as a welder at a San Francisco Bay Area shipyard at the time, the AP reported — made it her life's mission to make sure those women weren't forgotten.

Original Rosie the Riveter Phyllis Gould
Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty

In 2014, Gould, who lived in Fairfax, Calif., visited President Barack Obama at the White House to help lobby for a National Rosie the Riveter Day.

"We had equal pay with the men. I was married, a young marriage, and he was a welder, and I became a welder and was making the same money he did," she recalled during the visit, according to CBS News.

The U.S. Senate voted to recognize the day three years later in March 2017.

"Phyllis is, in modern-day life, as iconic as the Westinghouse poster with the woman in the polka-dotted bandana," Rep. Jackie Speier told the AP of Gould. "She flexed her muscles on the telephone every day telling Congress to move forward on recognition of the Rosies."

RELATED VIDEO: See Rosie the Riveter at 95: Woman Who Inspired WWII Poster Was Lost to History for 7 Decades

Gould also successfully petitioned members of Congress to create a Gold Medal for Rosies in commemoration of their efforts, CBS News reported. The medal will be given out next year.

"She wants on her gravestone: 'Mission Accomplished,'" her sister, Marian Sousa, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I think she did it all."

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