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Inspiration for Rosie the Riveter, Naomi Parker Fraley, dies at 96

Posted at 7:33 AM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 07:33:12-05

VANCOUVER, WA (KATU/CNN) – Rosie the Riveter may have become a cultural icon during World War II, but her family knew her as Naomi Parker Fraley, a single mother and “amazing person.”

Before the world knew Fraley as Rosie the Riveter, Joe Blankenship knew her as Mom.

"It's my mom. I'm proud anyway. The thing is, I grew up with this woman, so she was special to me because of who she was,” Joe Blankenship said.

Fraley, who inspired one of America's memorable images of a woman at work, worked at Alameda Naval Air Station during World War II. She was just 20 years old at the time.

"A photographer happened to be going through and taking pictures, and he glommed on to her,” said Marnie Blankenship, Fraley’s daughter-in-law.

One picture was of Fraley at the lathe, which was originally used to deglamorize women in the war and show them what to properly wear in the workforce.

It wasn’t until 2009 when Fraley saw it publicized at a convention that she realized she was Rosie the Riveter.

But even then, to Fraley, there were many Rosies, who had all chipped into the war effort.

"I'm thankful that she finally got the notoriety that she deserves. The funny thing is she was a humble person, and she didn't care,” Joe Blankenship said.

For Fraley’s family, she wasn’t just an icon, she embodied one. A single mother and the sole breadwinner for her family in the 1950s, she fought for everything she had to the end.

"Whatever the world threw at her, she'd just bounce back,” Joe Blankenship said. "She did it, and she always did it on her own. She was an amazing person."

Fraley died at age 96 from cancer on Jan. 20 in Longview, WA.

The family is planning a public memorial for Fraley in Longview on March 10.

Copyright 2018 KATU, National Archives via CNN. All rights reserved.