Waterfront 'Wendy Rose' statue beheaded

Police seek those responsible for vandalizing tribute to women who worked in shipyards

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

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Someone has beheaded "Wendy Rose."

The large, metal statue, which normally stands about 10 feet tall on the Columbia Waterfront Trail, stands a little shorter now.

"The head, somehow, was stolen," city of Vancouver spokeswoman Barb Ayers said. "I can't fathom how this happened, frankly."

Although the statue doesn't technically have a head, it was originally built with a bandana — red and white polka dotted glass welded between metal — similar to the one worn by the iconic "Rosie the Riveter."

The bandana was taken sometime between May 7 and Saturday, when one of the sculpture's artists noticed the piece of the artwork missing.

The city reported the theft to Vancouver police Monday morning and sent a photo of the statue to patrol officers. Neighbors on Watch volunteers were also told to keep a lookout and police are contacting local recycling and trash companies of the theft, Ayers said.

Ayers said the city has also started filing an insurance claim for the statue, which, along with the James and Joyce Harder Memorial Plaza it stands on, cost the city $140,000. The statue was built by six artists who called themselves the Women Who Weld and was completed in 2005. It was unveiled to residents in 2007.

The 1,000-pound statue stands along the Waterfront Renaissance Trail a mile east of the Interstate 5 Bridge, where it overlooks walkers, joggers and bicyclists.

"Wendy Rose" stands to honor the thousands of women who worked in the Kaiser Shipyards during World War II. The "Wendy Rose" name is a takeoff on "Rosie the Riveter," the enduring symbol of more than 6 million American women who worked in wartime factories. Another fictional character, "Wendy the Welder," never gained the same prominence but more accurately represented women who worked in Vancouver and other West Coast shipyards.

"It's kind of a point of pride," Ayers said. "It's our intention to restore 'Wendy' to her full glory."

Because the statue is so tall and in such a public space, Ayers is certain that somebody saw the theft occur.

She asks anyone with information to contact the Vancouver Police tip line, 360-487-7399, even anonymously.