Work to Win; Honoring Our Packard Rosies

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a War Production Board (WPB) in January 1942, just a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The newly developed board allocated resources, implemented price controls, and set production quotas to encourage workers to produce more goods during the war. Packard and its employees took it to heart as their duty to do all they could to help their soldiers fighting overseas.

Packard set up suggestion boxes for employees to share their ideas on production, and safety improvements within Packard plants. Collecting the collective minds of Packard employees was an ingenious move for Packard. Suggestion boxes not only saved Packard time and money it helped to unify the company as a whole, work as a team, and help win the war.

The War Production Drive Headquarters, under the umbrella of the WPB in Washington D.C., granted certificates and honorable mentions. These were formally presented to the Packard winners at a special Management-Labor Dinner Meeting at Packard’s restaurant. All 69 winners were honored, between shifts, on this special day of presentations on September 5, 1943.

“You can swell your chests in the knowledge that your suggestions are helping put a thousand engines a night over Berlin. Keep the ideas coming in!” These words of encouragement were given to Packard employees during one of the presentations by Packard’s president, Mr. Christopher.

Martha Carlson Phelan and the Rosie Memorial Garden

Honoring a Metro Detroit Legacy.

Among the many people honored that day was PT boat engine inspector Martha Carlson Phelan. Martha’s suggestion on how to speed up production won her an Individual Production Merit award. Furthermore, she was the only woman war worker to receive a WPB award within the area of Detroit and was personally congratulated by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in January 1943.

Martha Carlson Phelan is one of the Packard women who will be honored with a planted rosebush within our new Rosie Memorial Garden here at the Packard Proving Grounds.

This new garden is generously sponsored by the General Josiah Harmar Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Old Settler’s VFW Post 4659, and our Packard Motor Car Foundation.

The garden’s signage will correlate with the Rosie the Riveter Association’s goals to honor the legacy of the women who made history on our home front during WWII, and inspire a new generation of 21st-century Rosies with “living memorials”. Our new Rosie Garden will be a living memorial to the memory of Packard women who contributed more than we can imagine to the fight to win the Second World War.

It’s important to note that our Packard Proving Grounds became the Tank Testing Grounds during WWII.  Packard, its Proving Ground, Plant and Employees are all connected to the WWII Michigan story. We appreciate our community’s help in helping us tell these stories for the next generation.

Martha Carlson Phelan receiving recognition by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. – January, 1943

Rosie, Martha Carlson Phelan newspaper article

Rosie the Riveter Memorial Garden Luncheon

Celebrating Strength, Resilience, and Dedication.

We hope you will join us at our fundraising “Rosie Memorial Garden” event on Sunday, September 22 at 1 p.m. when we will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to introduce the garden and those being honored. Debra Wake, from the Rosie the Riveter Association, will entertainingly present a program to educate us on what exactly a “Rosie” was. A luncheon with photo opportunities is included with a ticket to this event. Your help celebrating this special day while dressed in patriotic colors or wearing a “Rosie” costume is welcomed. The cost of this event is $35 and your reservation can be made on our website at