Detroit, Mich. —
Flying was Monroe’s passion and she became a pilot after she was in her 50s. She died May 31, 1997 from injuries sustained in an airplane accident in Indiana in 1978. The accident severely damaged her kidneys and she was on dialysis.
The Associated Press said a group, trying to save the Detroit-area factory, must raise $1.5 million during the next few weeks to save the site from being demolished.
Those behind the Save the Bomber Plant campaign said they have raised $6.5 million of the $8 million they need by May 1 to buy the Willow Run Bomber Plant. They want to convert the factory where Monroe and other workers built B-24 bombers into a museum dedicated to aviation and the countless other Rosies who toiled at similar U.S. plants to aid the war effort.
The group has received several extensions by which to acquire a portion of the old plant, but the time has come to either raise the necessary money or see it relegated to the history books, said Dennis Norton, the president of the Michigan Aerospace Foundation and one of the leaders of the effort to save the plant.
"They need an answer from us," Norton said, referring to the trust set up to oversee properties owned by a pre-bankruptcy General Motors. "Demolition is under way, and they can't stop demolishing the plant, then come back later."
Norton and his team want to separate and preserve 175,000 square feet of the Ypsilanti Township, Mich., site and convert it into a new, expanded home for the Yankee Air Museum, which would move from its current location less than 2 miles away. Included would be the 150-foot-wide doors through which thousands of bombers left the plant to play their role in winning the war.
Although many Rosies were let go once the war was over and the soldiers returned home, they had shown that women were capable of doing jobs that had traditionally been done by only men.
The Willow Run factory went back to making automobiles after the war ended, and it did so for more than a half-century under the General Motors name before closing for good in 2010.
Monroe was just one of 6 million American women who entered the workforce during World War II, about half of them in the defense industries.
But she came to represent them all.