State Street in Rockford is probably the most traveled on road in town. It's hard not to notice this gigantic mural.

Murals are so in vogue right now in town, they're popping up all over. Each and every one of them is so cool to look at. They really add color to Rockford and I'm so here for it.


As far as I'm concerned, this is the O.G. It only went up a few years ago, and while it did require a bit of cleanup, This mural one of the most noticeable and popular paintings in town.

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Her name is Elizabeth "Libby" Remba Gardner, and while you can see she's rocking headphones, I'm pretty sure she wasn't listening to music.

Gardner was born in Rockford in 1921 and served during World War II. According to the Rockford Public Library, she was a "pilot for the Women Aircraft Service Planes a.k.a. WASP, which is considered a civil service...the opportunity to serve my country by doing flying aircraft is unimaginable and is a wonderful privilege."

As far as the mural is concerned, WIFR says, "The painting is based on a picture from 1943, where Gardner is operating a plane at just 22 years old."

Apparently, Gardner wasn't done flying even after the WASPs were finished. The Rockford Register Star says Gardner "continued flying, working as a test pilot for the Piper Aircraft Corp. in Pennsylvania. She made national news in 1946 when she narrowly escaped death after a full-plane parachute she was testing failed to open at more than 2,000 feet above the ground."

Gardener died in 2011, nearly a decade before the mural of her accomplishments went up on East State Street. Even though she's gone, her legacy lives on.

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Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

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