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Tulsa community remembers 100-year-old original “Rosie the Riveter”

TULSA, Okla. — Tributes are pouring in for a 100-year-old Tulsa woman who died this month, after living an extraordinary life.

An obituary says Marina Metevelis, one of the original “Rosie the Riveters”, passed away on Jan. 14 in her sleep. Metevelis worked on B-17 bombers during WWII.

Last June, FOX23 was at the annual Rosies convention at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, where Metevelis and seven other original Rosies shared their stories with Girl Scouts from across Green Country.

According to her obituary, Metevelis met her husband in Tulsa and followed him to Tennessee where he was training with troops for the D-Day invasion. Metevelis also worked as a Boeing B-17 rivet inspector in Wichita.

Metevelis then worked on and off for a florist in Tulsa, which eventually led her to be one of the founding members of “Up With Trees”.

She started working at Tulsa Community College in 1970 and retired after 47 years of service to the school. She helped develop the archive at the Heritage Center.

Greg Stone is the Associate Vice President of Academic and Campus Operations. He said Metevelis made a massive difference.

“For a woman who was so small in stature she had a big heart and a big personality and made a huge impact,” he said.

“Because she was such a good storyteller she helped us tell our story through our history and she knew the history of this place left right and sideways,” he also said.

Metevelis danced in a swing dance group, according to her obituary, and loved the music of the 40s. The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate called Metevelis their “queen of dance” in a tribute to her on social media.

Rita Robbins helped found the Oklahoma Swing Syndicate. She said Metevelis was an inspiration.

“I asked her one time to please be careful that she couldn’t do flips, literally on the dancefloor, and she dropped and gave me 20 full on military push ups,” she said.

“We started calling her the queen and she was our grandame, she was our inspiration,” she also said.

Broken Arrow Mayor Debra Wimpee also posted about Metevelis on social media.

“Glenne and I had the honor of being her escort for a number of years to the Soldiers Wish Night of Honor event and it was always a very long night because people lined up across the room just to talk to her and take pics,” said Wimpee. “Man you will be missed Rosie!”

Alex London is the curator at the Tulsa Air and Space museum. He said Metevelis was a trailblazer.

“Breaking through those barriers and kind of establishing something that took precedent in the years following, you know, so many women who participate in this, continued careers in aviation or in machinery, things like that,” he said.

“Her lasting legacy will be not only what she did in the past but what she will continue to do in the future by inspiring all these future generations. that has marinas thumbprint all over it,” he also said.

A funeral service for Metevelis will be held at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church at 1222 S Guthrie Ave. in Tulsa on Friday at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church or the VFW Post 577 in Tulsa.

The Tulsa Air and Space museum said they’re hoping to make a special tribute to Metevelis. The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate is going to hold a special celebration dance to honor Metevelis on the third Saturday in February.

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