The nation’s oldest active National Park ranger just celebrated a milestone birthday.
Ranger Betty Reid Soskin celebrated her 100th birthday on Wednesday. According to the National Park Service, she is the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service.
“Over the past decade and a half, Ranger Betty has shared her experiences as well as the efforts and sacrifices of women from diverse backgrounds living and working on the WWII home front at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park,” National Park Service wrote on Wednesday.
The National Park Service recounted some of Soskin’s life.
Soskin grew up in a Cajun-Creole, African-American family that settled in Oakland, California after the “Great Flood” that devastated New Orleans in 1927.
Soskin graduated from Castlemont High School in Oakland during the World’s Fair at Treasure Island, and she went on to work in a segregated Union hall during World War II as a file clerk.
She and her husband went on to open one of the first black-owned music stores in 1945. The store, Reid’s Records, closed in the fall of 2019.
Soskin first got involved with NPS in the early 2000s, when she participated in scoping meetings with the City of Richmond and the National Park Service to develop the general management plan for Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.
Soskin worked with the NPS to “uncover untold stories of African-Americans on the Home Front during WWII.” This position started as a temporary position when she was 84, but in 2011, she became a permanent NPS employee.
“[Soskin] has been leading public programs and sharing her personal remembrances and observations at the park visitor center,” the NPS said.
Soskin currently works intermittently during the pandemic and has started 1-hour virtual tour visits to connect with visitors.
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