Sometime in the early morning hours around 5:00am, on November 21, 2013 in her room in University Village Nursing Home, where she resided in the Austin Texas area, Dorothy Ellen Fletcher left this life of over 91 years, to continue her song, with other loved ones, in Heaven. In her life, she had a total of 9 children, and now an abundance of wonderful grandchildren and great grandchildren, who will all miss her dearly. Of the many fantastic things she has accomplished over the years, perhaps the most extraordinary and noteworthy was that Dorothy Ellen Fletcher was one of the world famous "Rosie Riveters"!
Ellen, as she is better known, was born Dorothy Ellen Harris, the daughter of Giles Amos Harris, a prominent lawyer of over 50 years, and Virginia Lee (Cain) Harris, of Eastland Texas. Ellen, just one sibling of 5 total, born to the Harris family, was destined for greatness. Born on the 17th of August, in 1922, just barely 10 years after the sinking of the U.S.S. Titanic, Ellen grew up a normal child in a time so very different from today, with hopes and interests like any other child of her time period. She was a determined young lady, with spunk and guts, traits not normally found in young women of the early 1900's!
During her early years as a young adult, Ellen cared for her ailing mother, and stayed by her side, rendering aid as best as she could, until desperate times began to unfold. It was 1941, and news of the attack on Pearl Harbor was just hitting the news. Ellen went on to serve her country, signing up for an innovative new idea comprised of a workforce of female workers commissioned to help in the building of bomber aircraft desperately needed for the war. These brave young women would later be called "The Rosie Riveters"!
When Ellen first was assigned to the Rosie Riveters team, there was a lot of resentment among the male members of the workforce. This was a man's world, with no place for women. The men provided the women dresses to work in, to perform their riveting tasks as they climbed all over the aircraft. Ellen thought this was humiliating and would have no part in this! It would not be proper for a young lady to be climbing all over an aircraft in a dress! It would have been wonderful to have been a fly on the wall that day as she stormed in to the supervisors office to give them a piece of her mind in this! She burst in with such a determination that, when all was said and done, the Rosie Riveters were all issued a new special set of coveralls, just for the young women to work in!
Ellen worked hard, doing her part in helping to save this country. For about 2 years, she helped to build, assemble and rivet these enormous bomber aircraft, in efforts to help our country to recover from the devastating blow dealt by the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. And upon her completion of this 2-year assignment, she did so well that she was awarded a 3-year paid scholarship to attend nursing school, where in September of 1946, she graduated. And as a registered nurse, she was assigned to work in McAllen Texas at the prenatal care unit, in McAllen General Hospital. It was there that she met her husband Robert Edward Hardin. They married and had 3 children. After only 22 years of marriage, Robert found himself in the VA Hospital in Kerrville Texas, where he died shortly afterwards, leaving Ellen to raise the 3 children on her own.
Her former years as a Rosie Riveter, and as a Nurse, taught this woman to fight and not to give up! She raise these 3 young children, giving them the things of life that we all so easily take for granted. She made many of their clothes, and managed a very tight budget, and she even managed a car-trip vacation, all the way to Canada! She provided and cared for these 3 for almost 5 years, until Ralph Burk Fletcher came along, and with 6 kids of his own, they formed a new family! For the remainder of their years, these two enjoyed life with the family of "nine" in McAllen, Texas. When Ralph died at the age of 75, Ellen decided she wasn't through with her life - not yet! And she decided to move to the Austin Texas area, to be close to her daughter and enjoy her remaining years as "Grandma Fletcher"!
Some years later, Ellen got another chance to mount up with wings as eagles, when her children took her to see some of these old aircraft of long ago. Her son David made it possible for Ellen to go for a once-in-a-lifetime flight in one of the very airplanes that she helped to build - an old restored B-29 Bomber! Though terrified of that sort of thing, she did as she had done so many times before, and she pressed past her own fears and concerns and took the flight! She loved it!
But, finally, as with all life there is a time to live, and a time to die, and Ellen after living a good 91 years, took that path traveled by so many before her, as she left this life behind her, for new adventures! And with that parting, there are memories, so many memories ... of that Rosie Riveter, who with so much spunk, came on the line that day, and changed history!
Ellen, you will be missed!
Goodbye to one of the only very small few that are left, of the Rosie Riveters!