Ninety-three-year-old Elinor Otto, who is still working as a spar mechanic at Boeing, is the oldest living and still working Rosie the Riveter.
Otto will be honored along with 12 other women leaders at the 3rd Annual “We Can Do It!” Awards luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 17. The event, sponsored by the Rosie the Riveter Foundation, honors women who have blazed new trails in their professions and whose achievements serve as inspiration for women of all ages.
“Elinor’s life and work is the continuing story of the thousands of women we now refer to as Rosie the Riveters,” said 5th District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske, who founded The Long Beach Rosie the Riveter Foundation. “These pioneering women worked on assembly lines rolling out airplanes, tanks and military machinery to support our troops overseas during World War II. It is so important to remember how far we’ve come and that the struggle for women to have the opportunity to achieve in any field they choose continues. Women like Elinor have forever changed the way our nation views the role of women in the workplace. All of our honorees are women who have followed their dreams and made them come true.”
The luncheon will include a presentation about the individual honorees, entertainment from the High Tide Quartet and gourmet menu served by Keesal, Young and Logan’s in-house chefs.
This year’s honorees are:
• Public Service– Martha Thuente, former chair, North Long Beach Redevelopment Project Area Committee (NORTHPAC), Long Beach Veterans Day Committee chair
• Education– Mary Thoits, manager, Long Beach City College Senior Studies (teaches world affairs), World War II Women’s Air Force Service Pilots
• International Trade– Doris Topsy-Elvord, first African-American woman to serve on Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, former Long Beach City Councilmember; first member of the Justice and Peace Commission (Archdiocese of Los Angeles), co-founder of the African-American Heritage Society of Long Beach, and serves on various nonprofit boards
• Healthcare– Lillian Lew, Families in Good Health Director (St. Mary Medical Center), former Indo-Chinese Refugee Employment Project Developer (State of Hawaii), former LULAC Headstart Community Analyst (Long Beach)
• Historic Preservation– Kaye Briegel, California State University of Long Beach Oral Histories
• Arts and Culture– Karen Harper, Oral History Project, Hmong Association of Long Beach, Historical Society of Long Beach
• Nonprofit Leadership– Shirlee Jackert, executive director, Camp Fire USA
• Corporate Leadership– Connie Turner, Public Affairs regional manager, Southern California Edison
• Local Business Leadership– Mary Lynn Sophiea, owner, Baja Sonora Mexican restaurants
• Volunteerism– Mary Alice Braly, Rancho Los Alamitos Trustee, 49ers Foundation Board of Directors, Steel Magnolias
• Special Recognition: Bea Antenore, High Tide Quartet and Elinor Otto
The awards will be presented at the law offices of Keesal, Young and Logan, 400 Oceangate.
Proceeds from the luncheon will go to The Long Beach Rosie the Riveter Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works to enhance the Rosie the Riveter Park and Interpretive Center at Clark Avenue and Conant Street. The Rosie the Riveter Park and Interpretive Center is the only public setting in the United States to honor the women who worked in the airplane factories in World War II. For more information call (562) 570-6932. Read more about The Long Beach Rosie the Riveter Foundation at lbrosie.com .