Women and the role they played in L.I.'s history

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During World War II, the term Rosie the Riveter was used to symbolize all of the women who worked in the defense industry. A few of the original Rosies were from or settled on Long Island.

Rose Bonavita and her work partner, Jennie Florio, set a record by drilling 900 holes and driving 3,300 rivets in the tail of a Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber during one six-hour overnight shift in June 1943. President Franklin D. Roosevelt later commended Bonavita. After the war, she married and became a Long Island homemaker.

Rosalind P. Walter, who helped build the F4U marine gull-wing fighter plane, was the inspiration for the 1942 song “Rosie the Riveter,” recorded by the popular swing bandleader Kay Kyser. After the war, Walter became a philanthropist and a trustee at Long Island University.

Many other Long Island women, from all walks of life, left — or continue to leave — their mark on our area, the nation and the world:

• Sara Whalen, of Greenlawn, was a member of the U.S. women’s soccer team that won the 1999 World Cup.

• Judith Jacobs, of Woodbury, was the first female presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature.

• Donna Karan, who grew up in Woodmere, is head designer and chief executive officer of the fashion company that bears her name.

• Hazel Dukes, formerly of Roslyn, is a civil rights activist who served as both national and state president of the NAACP.

• Bernadette Castro, of Lloyd Harbor, is not only the former president of Castro Convertibles, but a former state commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and was a member of former Gov. George Pataki’s cabinet.

• Geri Barish, of Baldwin, is president of 1 in 9: The Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition.

• Doris Kearns Goodwin, a historian who grew up in Rockville Centre, won a Pulitzer Prize for “No Ordinary Time,” a book on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

• Dorothy Goosby, of Hempstead, filed suit against the town for racial discrimination in elections, won — and later became the first African-American woman ever elected to the Town Board.

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