Rosalind P. Walter

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Rosalind P. Walter
Rosalind Palmer

(1924-06-25)June 25, 1924
DiedMarch 4, 2020(2020-03-04) (aged 95)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Known forSupport of public television and the humanities; inspiration for the World War II song, "Rosie the Riveter"
  • Henry S. Thompson
    (m. 1946; div. 1954)
  • Henry Glendon Walter Jr.
    (m. 1956; his death 2000)
Parent(s)Carleton Humphreys Palmer and Winthrop (Bushnell) Palmer

Rosalind P. Walter (née Palmer; June 25, 1924 – March 4, 2020) was an American philanthropist and humanities advocate[1] who was best known for her late 20th and early 21st century support for public television programming across the United States. She also contributed to the improvement of educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth and the protection of wildlife and open space areas.[2]

During World War II, she inspired the creation of "Rosie the Riveter", a song about civilian women employed in the war industry which was penned by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb and popularized by Kay Kyser and The Four Vagabonds.[3]

Early life

Rosalind Palmer was born on June 25, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York,[4][5] a daughter of the late Winthrop (Bushnell) Palmer, chair and professor of literature and fine arts at Long Island University,[6] and Carleton Humphreys Palmer,[7] president of E. R. Squibb and Sons, a Brooklyn, New York-based pharmaceutical company which was founded in 1892 and is now a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.[8]

Raised in New York City, she was educated at Connecticut's Ethel Walker School.[7] In 1940, she lived in Manhattan with her parents and older siblings, Lowell and Winthrop.[9]

During the 1950s, she relocated with her family to Centre Island in Nassau County New York.[10]

World War II

Following her graduation from high school, Rosalind Palmer became one of many young women to secure jobs in the war industry during World War II. "The powerful female image of Rosie (the Riveter) was developed under the auspices of the War Production Board to inspire patriotic behavior," according to heritage writer Ginny McPartland, who reported in 2013 that the idea to give "the female war worker the name of 'Rosie' probably started with a newspaper story about Rosalind P. Walter, an aircraft factory worker in New York." Hired for the night shift,[8] Palmer was, in fact, employed as "a riveter on Corsair fighter planes", according to The New York Times.[11] Additional sources have noted that she worked on F4U marine gull-winged fighter airplanes,[12] and that she "broke records for speed on the production line, advocating for equal pay for her female co-workers.[10]

In 1942, she inspired Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb to write the song, "Rosie the Riveter", which was then recorded by Kay Kyser and The Four Vagabonds.[8][13]

Post-war life and philanthropy

Following war's end, Rosalind Palmer wed Henry S. Thompson, a lieutenant with the United States Navy Reserve. They were married at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York on June 22, 1946, and became the parents of son Henry.[14][15] They divorced in 1954.

In 1956, Rosalind (Palmer) Thompson wed Henry Glendon Walter, Jr. (1910–2000) in Manhattan.[16][17] A friend of the Palmer family who was employed by the law firm of Fulton, Walter & Halley in 1945, Henry G. Walter, Jr. later went on to become president (1962) and chairman and chief executive (1970) of International Flavors and Fragrances, a position he held until his retirement in 1985.[18]

Throughout their marriage, they were jointly and independently active in a range of philanthropic activities, including serving as trustees for the American Museum of Natural History[19] and Long Island University, which awarded her an honorary degree in 1983,[20] and noted in 2000 that "Hank and Roz have been first citizens and benefactors of this University in every respect."[21]

In 1951, she established the Walter Foundation,[22] which is known today as The Rosalind P. Walter Foundation. Based in New York City, this private non-operating foundation was designated as a 501(c)(3) organization by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in May 1953.[23]

Best known for underwriting public television programming in the United States, she supported the PBS series, Great Performances,[24] and such documentary films as: Blakeway Productions' Shakespeare Uncovered,[25] Ken Burns' The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,[26] Ric Burns' The Pilgrims,[27] and Susan Lacy's Emmy Award-winning American Masters series for WNET.[28]

In recognition of her history of giving, WNET appointed Rosalind P. Walter to its board of directors in 1989. Interviewed by The New York Times in 1994, station president Bill Baker observed, "She is one of those wonderful people that every nonprofit has to have.... We get a lot of people who come up to the altar with great suggestions and then we have to scamper for the funds. But she is usually the closing dollars that get a program over the hump."[29] By the time that WNET leaders delivered the organization's Annual Report for 2007-2008, she had donated at least $5,000,000 to that public television station.[30]

She also provided support to PBS NewsHour,[31] served in various leadership capacities for the Paley Center for Media and established a journalism scholarship at Long Island University.[32]

Walter's mother, Winthrop Palmer, died in 1988,[33] and her husband, Henry Glendon Walter, Jr., died at the age of 90 on November 11, 2000, at New York Hospital.[34]

A Centre Island, New York home that had once been owned by Walter was purchased by the American singer-songwriter, composer and pianist Billy Joel.[35]

USTA, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, wellness, and public education

A member of the board of overseers for the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club and lifetime supporter of its annual fund, Rosalind P. Walter was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame in 2016. She was also a member of the National Committee for Inner City Drug Prevention.[7]

A Life Trustee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island,[36] she was also appointed by the United States Tennis Association to the board of its USTA Serves program, and provided the funding for the first college scholarships awarded under that initiative. Named in her honor in 2011, that program now annually grants funding "to one male and one female high-academic achieving student of good character who is entering a four-year college or university program" and who "share Walter’s belief in always putting forth one’s best effort and giving back to one’s community to make it a better place."[37] Each student selected is "eligible to receive $2,500 per year for a total of up to $10,000 to cover costs of tuition, room and board and educational materials."[38]

Wildlife preservation and land conservation

A member of the board of trustees of the North Shore Wildlife Sanctuary, she contributed to efforts by the North Shore Land Alliance in 2014 to purchase the 28-acre Humes property in Mill Neck, New York, in order to preserve the meadow, freshwater woodlands, woodland, and nine structures located there.[39]

In 2016, the North Shore Land Alliance listed "Mrs. Henry G. Walter Jr./The Rosalind P. Walter Foundation" on its registry of individuals and organizations who had donated to the Alliance in 2015 at the "$25,000 to $49,999" level.[40]

Walter died in her home in Manhattan on March 4, 2020.[41]

See also


  1. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer. "A Mystery Donor: Who is Rosalind P. Walter?", in "F.Y.I." New York, New York: The New York Times, February 27, 1994.
  2. ^ "Rosie the Riveter and GBBGC." Locust Valley, New York: Grenville Baker Boys and Girls Club, March 12, 2018.
  3. ^ McPartland, Ginny. "Rosie the Riveter's tough image morphs to fit the times." Oakland, California: Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources, October 11, 2013.
  4. ^ Rosalind Palmer, Carleton Palmer, Winthrop Palmer (aged 34), Lowell Palmer, and Winthrop B. Palmer (aged 11), in Immigration Records: New York, New York (passenger and crew lists for 1934, NARA microfilm publication T715). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
  5. ^ Palmer, Rosalind, et. al., in "United States Census, 1940 (Manhattan, New York)." Washington, D.C." U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, April 9, 1940.
  6. ^ "Winthrop Palmer, 88, Educator and Author." New York, New York: The New York Times, August 11, 1988.
  7. ^ a b c "Rosie the Riveter," Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club.
  8. ^ a b c McPartland, "Rosie the Riveter's tough image morphs to fit the times."
  9. ^ U.S. Census, 1940.
  10. ^ a b "Rosie the Riveter," Grenville Boys and Girls Club".
  11. ^ Fox, Margalit. "Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96." New York: The New York Times, January 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "The Rosalind P. Walter College Scholarship." White Plains, New York: USTA Foundation, retrieved online July 19, 2018.
  13. ^ Fox, "Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter."
  14. ^ "Rosalind Palmer Navy Man's Bride; One-Time Nurse's Aide Is Wed to Lieut. Henry S. Thompson in Church Ceremony Here." New York, New York: The New York Times, June 23, 1946.
  15. ^ Henry S. Thompson, in "Henry Walter, 90, Former Head Of International Flavors." Deerfield Beach, Florida: Sun Sentinel, November 28, 2000.
  16. ^ Henry Walter and Rosalind Thompson, in "New York City Marriage License Index" (1956)." New York, New York: City Clerk's Office, City of New York, and in "The New York City Marriage Index". Mill Valley, California: Reclaim the Records.
  17. ^ Doel, Ronald. "Henry Walter - Session I" (May 24, 1996), in "Oral Histories." College Park, Maryland: American Institute of Physicians, retrieved online July 19, 2018.
  18. ^ "Henry Walter, 90, Head of Flavor Company." New York, New York: The New York Times, November 27, 2000.
  19. ^ Barron, James. "Boldface Names." New York, New York: The New York Times, May 29, 2001.
  20. ^ "Trustees Emeriti," in "Board of Trustees." Brooklyn, New York: Long Island University, retrieved online July 19, 2018.
  21. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths Walter, Henry G., Jr." New York, New York: The New York Times, November 15, 2000.
  22. ^ "The Rosalind P. Walter Foundation" (profile), in "Foundation Directory Online." New York, New York: Foundation Center, retrieved online July 19, 2018.
  23. ^ "Rosalind P Walter Foundation" (profile). Glen Rock, New Jersey: Charity Navigator, retrieved online July 19, 2018.
  24. ^ "The Cleveland Orchestra and Ideastream Partner with Great Performances on New National Co-Production." Cleveland, Ohio: The Cleveland Orchestra, June 20, 2018.
  25. ^ "About: Shakespeare Uncovered." London, United Kingdom: Blakeway Productions, 2018.
  26. ^ Burns, Ken. "Overview: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History." Washington, D.C.: PBS/WETA, 2014.
  27. ^ Burns, Ric. The Pilgrims. New York, New York: Steeplechase Films, 2015.
  28. ^ Lacy, Susan. "About the Series: American Masters." New York, New York: WNET, 1986.
  29. ^ Steinhauer, The New York Times.
  30. ^ "Lifetime Leadership Gifts." New York, New York: WNET, retrieved online July 19, 2018.
  31. ^ "Funders: PBS NewsHour." Washington, D.C.: PBS, 2018.
  32. ^ "IC 2010 NYC Attendee Lists" (biographical summary). New York, New York: The Paley Center for Media, retrieved online July 19, 2018.
  33. ^ "Winthrop Palmer, 88, Educator and Author," The New York Times.
  34. ^ "Henry Walter, 90, Head of Flavor Company," The New York Times.
  35. ^ Paumgarten, Nick. "Billy Joel, Thirty-Three-Hit Wonder." New York, New York: The New Yorker, October 27, 2014.
  36. ^ "Leadership." International Tennis Hall of Fame, retrieved online July 19, 2018.
  37. ^ "Inspired by the Riveter." White Plains, New York: USTA Foundation, retrieved online July 19, 2018.
  38. ^ "The Rosalind P. Walter College Scholarship," USTA Foundation.
  39. ^ "Humes Property Closing Scheduled for Early July", in Conservation News Vol. 11, No. 21, p. 3. Old Westbury, New York: North Shore Land Alliance, Spring 2015.
  40. ^ "Mrs. Henry G. Walter Jr./The Rosalind P. Walter Foundation," in "2015 Contributors," in "Conservation News," Vol. 12, No. 23, p. 33. Old Westbury, New York: North Shore Land Alliance, Spring 2016.
  41. ^ "Rosalind P. Walter, the First 'Rosie the Riveter', Is Dead at 95". The New York Times. March 4, 2020.

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