Betty Reid Soskin, America’s Oldest Active Ranger, Retires at 100 Years Old | National parks



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Betty Reid Soskin, the National Park Service’s oldest active ranger, has retired at age 100.

Soskin, who worked at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, California, spent her last day as she had for the past decade: sharing her experiences and those of other women working on the Home Front in the WWII.

Soskin served as a file clerk in a breakaway Union hall in the San Francisco Bay Area during the conflict, and during her time as a ranger, Soskin sought to shed light on the experiences of women of color during World War II.

Her efforts in the park — and her 100th birthday last fall — have captivated the public and garnered attention from numerous media outlets, including a profile in the New York Times and a portrait by Annie Leibovitz. Soskin came into the national spotlight during the federal government shutdown in 2013 when she participated in multiple interviews urging lawmakers to take action so she could get back to work. In 2015, she participated in a tree-lighting ceremony at the Obama White House.

“To be part of helping mark the place where that dramatic trajectory of my own life, combined with others of my generation, will impact the future through the footprints we’ve left behind was incredible,” Soskin said in a statement. statement from the NPS announced her retirement.

Soskin has been involved with the park since it opened, she told The Guardian in 2015, and was the only person of color in early meetings to shape the site’s identity. The park, 18 miles north of San Francisco, is in the same city where workers produced hundreds of ships during the war.

She started the park service at age 84 after working with the agency on a grant to reveal “untold stories” about the efforts of black people in the US during World War II, becoming a regular contributor in 2011. .

“Being a primary resource in sharing that history — my history — and shaping a new national park was exciting and fulfilling,” she said. “It has proven to give meaning to my last years.”

Soskin said her work for the park has “proven to give meaning to my final years.” Photo: Ben Margot/AP

Soskin’s work drew attention to the unique contributions of women of color during World War II.

“As a woman of color, my history with the park is a little different. My experience was not like a Rosie the Riveter; that was usually the story of a white woman. Since slavery, black women have worked outside the home,” she said in 2015.

Her stories had a big impact on the park service, says NPS director Chuck Sams.

“Betty’s efforts remind us that we need to seek out all perspectives and give them space so that we can tell a more complete and inclusive history of our nation,” Sams said in a statement.

The park plans to hold a celebration of her retirement later this month.

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