Katherine Brakhage
WWII Civilian
B-24 Riveter
Audio Samples

A real "Rosie the Riveter," Katherine was born in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. Her father, Lester C. Funk, a mail carrier, moved the family to Wichita, Kansas where Katherine attended high school. When nearby war industries offered women jobs, Katherine built wings for bombers at a local company, Aero Parts. She moved out of her parents' home "to give them some relief from the expense," she says, and rented an upstairs room in a private home. "I had a hot plate and could cook in my room," she recalls. Katherine worked from 7 a.m. to "4 or 5 p.m.," as well as the "swing" or evening shift. "I was just working and sleeping mostly," she remarks. She played some, too. "Wichita was kind of a wild town during the war," she says. "There was a group of about six of us young women who would go out to a night club and dance and eat." Meanwhile, she says her family raised a victory garden, and learned to live with shortages. "We didn't fuss about it," she says. "The attitude at that time of the people in the class was wonderful. We wanted to help our country. We wanted to help the men who were overseas, and the war, so our country would come out okay." Katherine worked at the plant for two years, was promoted to part-time inspector, and saved half her paycheck for her education. She enrolled in beauty school, which she attended by day, and then business school at night, graduating from both in eighteen months. She married Harold H.Brakhage on October 19, 1946. He had flown bombers in Europe. "Who knows, I might have riveted his airplane," she says. Katherine worked for the U.S. government for two years, first as a safety manager at an army ammunition plant, and then as secretary to the manager of the Social Security office in Minden. The couple helped found Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bossier City.