At eighty-three, Gloria Stokes-our own 'Rosie the Riveter'-stays as
active as she did in high school. "If you don't use it, you lose it,"
she quips, explaining her multi-tasking life as an active artist and
board member of The Village of Oakland Woods community of Presbyterian
Villages of Michigan, whose motto, fittingly enough, is 'Live Life'.

As a child of the Depression, such a work ethic was instilled early and
enhanced as she came of age during World War II. As a senior at St.
Frances DeSales High School, she was recruited by GM along with several
of her classmates to trim and file top-secret B-29 and B-24 blueprints
during the war's most critical phase. As she tells it, the nuns were
wary, but accommodating as she left school early several days a week,
caught a bus downtown to the General Motors building, and spent several
hours at her highly classified occupation. "Of course, what we were
doing was a secret, even to us," she laughs. "We had no idea of the
significance of these blueprints. As we worked, we girls spent our time
worrying about which boy might ask us to the prom."

Gloria wound up marrying one of those boys, Douglas Stokes, who was soon
to leave for flight training school and to pilot one of the planes she
was helping to build. She recalls fondly how Doug, then seventeen and
she, fifteen, used to woo her with Vernor's, apple pie and ice cream,
making Boston Coolers and listening and dancing to the Hit Parade.
"Henry James, Glenn Miller, Stan Kenton; those were our favorites. I
did pretty good with the Chattanooga Choo Choo until I dislocated my
knee... that pretty much put an end to that."

Meanwhile, her father was putting in seven days a week at a transmission
plant which had been converted to war-related manufacturing. "We never
knew what he actually built, and he didn't know what I did at GM. We
didn't ask each other-the saying was, 'Loose lips sink ships', and we
lived by that."

Combined with her mother's knitting sweaters for GI's, the neighborhood
tin and paper drives, even the Air Raid wardens on each block who
ensured that drapes were pulled in the event of a bomb attack from
overseas, and Gloria say, "We took the war very, very seriously. Every
night we were glued to the radio listening to Edward R. Murrow report on
the days developments, which often were not good. Remember, back then,
we had no idea if we would win this war. As a result, everybody did
what they could. Truly, I don't think that as a nation we have ever
displayed that level of patriotism since."

Gloria's marriage to Doug lasted twenty-four years, and despite her
valiant war effort and numerous Depression survival-stories, she counts
her four children as her greatest achievement in life. "They didn't
always have it easy," she points out, "and they are all doing well

As is Gloria. She is a respected and valuable member of The Village of
Oakland Woods board, but also a favorite resident.




Contact Us