America’s Oldest Active Park Ranger Is Hanging Up Her Hat to Retire at 100
The oldest active national park ranger who was born in Detroit, Michigan has retired at the age of 100.
Now I don't know about you, but I dread working into my 60s someday let alone 100 years old so kudos to anyone who can pull that off.
The woman to pull that off is Betty Reid Soskin. She just retired from the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California.
Who is Ranger Betty Reid Soskin?
Soskin was born Betty Charbonnet in 1921. Her family moved to New Orleans when she was a child. After her family survived the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, they then moved to Oakland, California where they would settle. According to her bio from Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park, she worked for the U.S. Air Force in 1942 but quit the job and she learned she only had the job because her superiors thought she was white. She worked for Her first husband owned the first African American-owned record store in the area in 1945.
Soskin eventually became a civil rights activist who received several honors:
- California Women of the Year 1995
- Named one of the nation's top 10 Oustanding Women by the National Women's History Project in 2005
- Lit the Christmas Tree at the Whitehouse in 2015
- Received Presidential Coin from President Barrack Obama in 2015
- Received the Silver Medallion Award at the World War II Museum in New Orleans in 2016. One of only two women out of 30 recipients to ever received the honor.
- Honored with entry into the Congressional Record
- Named Woman of the Year by Glamour Magazine in 2018
- A documentary called "No Time to Waste: The Urgent Mission of Betty Reid Soskin" was made in 2019.
What Did Betty Reid Soskin do as a Park Ranger?
Soskin would lead tours at the park and museum. She would tell the stories of the women who worked in the factories during a time of war and had a first-hand perspective since she had lived it. She would discuss what it was like to be a black woman during that time.
According to WOOD, Soskin said, "Being a primary source in the sharing of that history, my history, and giving shape to a new national park has been exciting and fulfilling. It has proven to bring meaning to my final years."
How Long did Betty Reid Soskin Work for Home Front Park?
Soskin became a temporary ranger at the age of 84. She went to full-time ranger status in 2011. She worked at the park for just over 15 years and since retired at the age of 100.
Wood reported that according to Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park Director Chuck Sams, "Betty has made a profound impact on the National Park Service and the way we carry out our mission. Her efforts remind us that we must seek out and give space for all perspectives so that we can tell a more full and inclusive history of our nation."