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Weirton honors local 'Rosies'

July 28, 2013
By CRAIG HOWELL - Managing editor ( , Weirton Daily Times

WEIRTON - The Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center paid tribute to some of the often unsung heroes of World War II Saturday with its second-annual Afternoon Tea with Rosie the Riveter.

The term "Rosie the Riveter" is derived from a song by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb, and often is used to describe women who worked in various industrial jobs while their husbands and other men were overseas fighting as part of the war effort.

On Saturday, the museum welcomed two local "Rosies" - Anita Varney and Margaret Rojak - who both worked at Weirton Steel Corp. during World War II.

Article Photos

Anita Varney, left, and Margaret Rojak speak to guests Saturday during the Afternoon Tea with Rosie the Riveter at the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center. Both ladies worked at Weirton Steel during World War II. -- Craig Howell

"I was on the shipping floor. I ran three buggies," Varney said. "Then later, I asked for a transfer to an overhead crane."

Varney explained she didn't work in the mill for long, noting most of the women there left once the war was over and soldiers returned home.

"We were there to hold the jobs for them," Varney said.

She said during that time people would do whatever they could to help their country, so many women didn't think twice about stepping up to fill the jobs and keep the plants going.

For much of the war, Rojak worked in the shipping office. However, for a while, she also worked on one of the lines, and remembered the smell of acid in the plant, noting she had received an acid sore on her face at one point.

She said it was a nice experience, and after the war she was transferred to the accounting department in the mill's main office.

"I didn't feel like I was a hero," she said. "I felt like my four brothers were."

Of her four brothers, Rojak explained one had enlisted and the other three were drafted.

Museum President Dennis Jones noted they held their first Rosie event in 2012, welcoming a dozen "Rosies," and have been working to contact the ladies and collect their stories ever since.

"The list keeps growing and growing," Jones said, noting they are working on uploading the names of area "Rosies" onto the museum's website.

Mayor George Kondik also welcomed those gathered, saying

"There's a lot of knowledge," Kondik said.

Visitors to the event also were able to listen to several songs performed by John Lilly, who also is the editor of West Virginia Goldenseal magazine.

(Howell can be contacted at, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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