From hat designer extraordinaire to WWII flight training instructor and back again – Rosalind “Roz” Henneman, a 1937-38 Fashion Design student who will turn 100 this fall, received an honorary degree at Woodbury’s 54th Annual Fashion Show on May 5.
This year’s theme, “InnerVision,” held that the art of fashion is all about creating stories and tapping emotions. And Roz does indeed have a story — one that will be showcased at downtown’s Millennium Biltmore, site of this year’s event.
After attending the University of Utah for two years, Roz arrived in the fall of 1937 at what was then Woodbury College, enrolling in classes in Fashion Arts and Millinery. As she recalls, “to graduate, we modeled two outfits we had designed, sketched in color, made the pattern and then the articles of clothing. I modeled an evening gown and a beach outfit consisting of pants, blouse, cover-up, large beach hat and beach bag.”
Roz then joined the Lord Hat Company in L.A. There, she sketched the designs in color, with all measurements and details of the trims so that hats could be made when orders arrived. She eventually returned to Salt Lake City and was hired by an exclusive store for women’s apparel, where she sold their merchandise and made hats for customers.
As the U.S. entered World War II, Roz put her budding career in hat design on hold and joined the war effort. As she recalled for the Deseret News in 2015, “my youngest brother joined [the military] because he didn’t want to be drafted,” Roz recalled. Kenneth, another brother, attempted to join, but “they wouldn’t take him because he had a heart murmur. He was so devastated. When Ken couldn’t get in, that got me thinking. I pondered that for many days… then all of a sudden I decided I could serve in his place.” She abruptly quit her job and signed up for the Navy.
At boot camp at Hunter College in New York, officers introduced Roz and the other new recruits to a variety of potential jobs. “The two that intrigued me were the Link Trainer and also Control Tower Operator,” Roz said. The Link Trainer post it was.
Roz served in Atlanta and Washington D.C., training pilots on the Link Trainer. One of her bunk-mates trained a marine pilot named Paul Henneman and introduced Roz to him. “I went with Paul on a blind date,” she said. “He could really dance and I liked him. By the end of November, I was wearing his wings – which is like getting engaged – on the inside of my jacket.” They got married and, after Paul’s honorable discharge, lived in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Utah as he worked his way to becoming a J.C Penney manager.
Looking back, Roz recalled, “I had some good experiences, even stunt flying. I didn’t ask for that one, but I got it. We have a wonderful family of four sons and three daughters, 24 grandchildren and — so far — 32 great-grandchildren.”
So, hats off to Roz on her upcoming birthday and her honorary Woodbury degree.