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Real life Rosie the Riveter lives in Marquette with her World War II love

Remember her? She helped win a war

May 26, 2011
By RENEE PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Lynn Roblin is a real life Rosie the Riveter.

During World War II, Mrs. Roblin riveted the wings of Navy Helldiver planes in a converted DeSoto factory in Detroit, making $1.62 an hour.

A Marquette native, Mrs. Roblin was one of the many women who worked in America's factories and auto plants during World War II to keep the country going while its men were off at war.

Article Photos

Lynn and Palmer Roblin are seen in a recent photo. Lynn is holding an item bearing the iconic Rosie the Riveter image from World War II. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)

"We would not have won the war if not for the women who took the place of men in industry," said Palmer Roblin, Lynn's husband. He's a World War II veteran, having served on the U.S. Army troop ship Fred C. Ainsworth, enlisting prior to the start of the war, when he was just 17.

Mrs. Roblin was one of four children born to Ernest and Helvi Hannula in Marquette. Linnea - who has always been called Lynn - now 86, graduated from Graveraet High School.

"Then a year later, I went to Detroit to work in the defense plants," she said. "During the war, they needed women to work in the plants. I was a riveter, actually working on the airplane wings."

A family she had worked for in Marquette had moved to Detroit, so Lynn followed.

"They encouraged me to come down and I went to live with them."

What did small-town girl Lynn think of her move to the Motor City?

"It was definitely a change," she said. "Detroit was a beautiful city back then. It was a nice place to live. I enjoyed it."

Fate brought Palmer Roblin into her life.

The Ainsworth had spent some time near the Panama Canal and Palmer picked up a virus, later diagnosed as a tropical fever. He was discharged from the Army for medical reasons and went to work in a defense plant in his hometown, Detroit.

"I saw this beautiful young lady riveting. I had my eye on her right away and I told my work partner Russ 'that's my future wife," Palmer said. "She's been my 'Rosie' for 67 years."

The two worked the same 3-11 shift at the plant.

"We got out at 11, then walked from the corner of Michigan and Telegraph Road to the downtown area," Palmer said. "It would take us two or three hours to walk, so we'd have a lot of time to talk."

After an 18-month courtship, the couple married in 1944.

"After our daughter was born, we moved back to Marquette for five years," Lynn said.

Palmer worked for the conservation department and for Blackstone Taxi Cab while in Marquette.

"Blackstone Taxi Cab, Marquette telephone number 8," said Palmer, now 86.

"That was a few years ago," Lynn said with a smile.

They enjoyed being in Lynn's hometown, but the lure of a better job took them back to Detroit.

"My husband worked for the Chrysler Corporation in the Dodge division," Lynn said.

They stayed in Detroit, but then in 1961, took a vacation out west.

"We went to Colorado and fell in love with that state," she said. "We ended up moving there and staying for 40 years."

Lynn went to work for Western States Construction, at the time a small company.

"My wife started out as a bookkeeper and worked her way up to being the No. 2 person there," Palmer said. "Eventually she was vice president, secretary and treasurer for the company. She's just brilliant, my wife."

As with her early career as a riveter, her position with the construction company was unique.

"Our company did a lot of work for the government so I did lots of things most women don't do," she said. "Like being in a Titan missile silo. I got to stand on the platform and see the missile that read 'United States of America'. I was so proud."

Lynn also visited other missile sites and NORAD's facility in the course of her work.

Palmer worked as a building inspector in Fort Collins, Colo., and when he retired, the couple knew where they wanted to go.

"We had always told people we were from Marquette and we knew we wanted to get back here." Palmer said. "We have always been Marquette people, wherever we were."

They returned to the Upper Peninsula 10 years ago. Daughter Diana Swift lives in Marquette, while the Roblins' son, Michael, died of cancer at age 49. They have three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and a dog, Terry.

The couple has enjoyed traveling through the years, visiting all U.S. states save Alaska and Hawaii: "And we'll get to Hawaii when they build a road," Palmer said.

Having recently celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary, the Roblins are content.

"We've had a wonderful life," Palmer said. "Everything we have, I owe to her."

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.



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