GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A lot has changed over Connie Formsma’s 92 years of life, but her sense of humor remains.
“I never thought I’d ever live this long. And sometimes, my husband wonders why,” Formsma joked Friday.
What else hasn’t changed is her sharp memory.
“I can remember the day (World War II) started,” Formsma said. “That’s when things changed all over the country.”
Things also changed for Formsma.
With so many men serving overseas during the war, she got a summer job at the old McInerney Spring & Wire factory in Grand Rapids.
At just 15 and 16 years old, she was working on oil tanks for military equipment.
Before the war, factory jobs were typically only held by men.
“I didn’t tell everybody what a great person I was because I was working in a factory at 16 years old,” Formsma said. “It was just another adventure for me.”
A couple of years later, the war ended.
Formsma got married and became a nurse.
It wasn’t until decades after that when she realized she was part of what had become a cultural icon.
“I was telling somebody what I did, and they said, ‘Well, you’re a Rosie the Riveter,'” Formsma explained.
Even today, Rosie the Riveter remains a symbol of the strength of female empowerment.
Next weekend in Iowa, there will be a celebration of exactly that.
The American Rosie the Riveter Association is hosting their annual convention.
As is the case with World War II veterans, the number of Rosies still alive is shrinking every day.
The national group is trying to celebrate their contributions while there’s still time.
Formsma is a member of the group. She and her family are going to the convention for the first time — excited to meet other Rosies from around the United States.
“My job was actually simple. Some of these older gals — or any age — to get on top of planes and work on planes (themselves)… it amazes me,” Formsma said.
Formsma, who now lives in Indiana with her husband of nearly 70 years, was wearing a Rosie the Riveter shirt during her interview with 24 Hour News 8 at her daughter’s house in Georgetown Township.
She said Rosie deliverers an important message.
“Women can do it,” she said.