Wartime Rosie Helen Jablonski, sitting, joins her daughter, Antoinette Jablonski, who is a member of the Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Workers chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association. Both are Roseville residents. The organization planted rosebushes at Roseville City Hall May 21 in honor of Rosies such as Helen.

Wartime Rosie Helen Jablonski, sitting, joins her daughter, Antoinette Jablonski, who is a member of the Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Workers chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association. Both are Roseville residents. The organization planted rosebushes at Roseville City Hall May 21 in honor of Rosies such as Helen.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Rosebushes planted at Roseville City Hall to honor WWII ‘Rosies’

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published May 28, 2019

 President Bette Kenward, of the  Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Workers chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association, left, and member Antoinette Jablonski, right, plant  rosebushes at  Roseville City Hall May 21 in honor of the women who worked in factories during World War II  in the spirit of Rosie the Riveter.

President Bette Kenward, of the Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Workers chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association, left, and member Antoinette Jablonski, right, plant rosebushes at Roseville City Hall May 21 in honor of the women who worked in factories during World War II in the spirit of Rosie the Riveter.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

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ROSEVILLE — Several specially grown rosebushes were planted at the entrance to Roseville’s city building May 21 as a tribute to the millions of women who went to work in the spirit of Rosie the Riveter during World War II.

The plantings were done by the Eastern Michigan Women Ordnance Workers chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association. Bette Kenward, the chapter president, helped organize plantings like the one in Roseville in locations all over the state.

“We’re planting 100 rosebushes all across Michigan,” said Kenward. “We’re also planting them in places Rosies live or lived to honor their legacy. Each rosebush will have a plaque with it with the name of a Rosie on it.”

“We’re planting Rosie the Riveter roses in as many municipal offices as possible, as well as places where veterans are being honored,” added Antoinette Jablonski, another member of the organization and a daughter of Rosie Helen Jablonski.

The planting was welcomed by Roseville city officials, who said they were pleased to see the Rosies honored in a way that also helped beautify the city.

“This project ties in nicely with our beautification and historical society and is a great way to benefit the city and honor the Rosies,” Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins said. “It’s great timing as well with Memorial Day this coming week.”

These particular rosebushes were specially grown by an expert horticulturist to stand out and be something special for the Rosies.

“They’re not red roses; they’re sort of orange,” explained Kenward. “They were a type specially grown to honor the Rosies by the Spirit of ’45, which is another group that honors veterans, Rosies and other people who were part of the war effort.”

The planters hope this will help serve as a reminder for others about the Rosies and the vital work they did.

“Our purpose is keeping the legacy of Rosie the Riveter alive,” said Jablonski. “So many people today don’t even know about the Rosies. Detroit was called the Arsenal of Democracy, and with the men off fighting, it fell to the women to make all of that possible, even though they still had kids and families to take care of.”

The rosebushes will have markers commemorating the Rosies as well as plaques with names of local Rosies at each plant.

“It’s an important cause to recognize them. There’s not many left,” said Janice Carter, the chair of the Roseville Beautification Commission. “When City Manager Scott Adkins called me and said there were some residents who wanted to plant some rosebushes for Rosie the Riveter, we thought it was a great idea. We’re planting them today and we’ll have a proper dedication at our awards banquet next September.”

Jablonski said she grew up hearing stories from her mother about her time in the factory and the work done by countless women like her. She said her mother was an inspiration, and she wants others to be similarly inspired.

“A lot of the Rosies were never really honored,” said Jablonski. “We want to recognize them and teach more people about them. My mom started working as a Rosie at 16 years old — even though they were supposed to be 17 at the time. She built wings for bombers, while other people would build tanks or parts for other vehicles. They did jobs that were challenging and often dangerous.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068.

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