Rosa Nell Hammer, Miami Lakes’ own ‘Rosie the Riveter’

Community By Alexandra Herrera, Reporter Wednesday, August 16, 2023

      For Rosa Nell Hammer, a ceremony in her honor was a bunch of “hoopla,” as she put it. 

     The 103-year-old Lake Sandra resident is not big on festivities or fuss.

     But she is a town treasure, Miami Lakes’ own “Rosie the Riveter,” and Miami Lakers wanted to salute her. 

     On Aug. 7, the Miami Lakes Veterans and Elderly Affairs committees recognized Hammer for her service as a factory worker during World War II.

     From 1942 to 1943 in Akron, Ohio, Hammer was on the speed riveting team in a Goodyear factory that built Navy Corsair Fighter planes. 

     Hammer said she was among 3,000 workers who worked eight-hour shifts with two breaks.  

     Hammer was a farm girl and was in her early 20s when she moved from Mississippi to Akron at the start of the war to aid in the effort. 

     Post-war, she moved to a South Carolina Air Force base to repair planes. 

     During the ceremony at the Mary Collins Community Center, Hammer spoke about some of the impacts of the war upon American society. 

     “World War II made this country strong,” Hammer said. “It taught us how to work hard and get what you want.”   

     All her life, she has practiced a work ethic begun on the farm and that continued as a young woman operating power tools and during her real estate career.

     Elderly Affairs Committee Chair Dottie Wix shared stories about her friend’s life, including her world travels. 

     After Hammer met her husband Harvey Hammer, the couple lived in Japan before moving to Florida in 1955 and eventually to Miami Lakes, “where she raised her four children,” Wix said.

     Hammer is passionate about orchids and has journeyed to international competitions. A gold and yellow striped Cattelya with ruffled edges is named for her.

     Though she is retired, Hammer is still a licensed real estate agent. She sold her last home when she was 100. 

     If she gets the itch to sell again, Alex Ruiz, the district sales manager and broker associate for The Keyes Company, said she is welcome to come back. 

     Ruiz began working with Hammer when she was in her 80s. He was impressed that she kept selling and working in the office. 

     Ruiz said clients loved having Hammer as their agent because she was “honest and straightforward.”

      “It’s really a fantastic thing that is happening,” Ruiz said of the day’s celebration of Hammer. “We’re very proud of her.”

     Plans are underway for Hammer’s 104th birthday celebration in October.

     The event moved to Veterans Park, where a Young Marines Honor Guard gathered around a live oak tree the town planted in her name. It will have a marker decorated with a Rosie the Riveter figure -- a character that arose during the war that represented women factory workers -- in honor of Hammer.

     William Perez, chair of the Veterans Committee, presented a certificate of recognition from Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava that praised Hammer’s achievements and “making our community a better place for all.” 

     About the women who toiled at home to help American men fighting the war overseas, Perez said, “These young ladies were working in very difficult conditions … they loved it because they loved their country and they loved that they knew that every weapon system they put together well was probably going to save their brother, cousin [or] husband who was on the frontlines.”

     Allan Pelaez, Hammer’s former colleague at The Keyes Company, used to do Hammer’s computer work for her, because she kept all of the details about her customers and properties in her head.

     Hammer has resisted the pull of technology and doesn’t use a computer or text on her phone. Pelaez helps her with those tasks, too. 

     “She’s my neighbor, but she’s like Grandma,” said Pelaez, who accompanied her that day.

     There was a visit to the tree, and friends enjoyed coffee and baked goods from Dunkin’ and chats with their friend. 

      “It’s a great day,” Hammer said. “I see a lot of people I have known a long time.”