Betty Reid Soskin: Oldest active National Park Service ranger turns 100
Betty Reid Soskin, who is the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service, turned 100 on Sept. 22.
Soskin started working for the NPS well into her 80s and is known for telling her own story of being a young Black woman growing up in the Bay Area during World War II.
She is currently assigned to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, according to the National Park Service website.
Soskin was originally born in Detroit, Michigan but moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where she and her family survived the "Great Flood" of 1927.
Ranger Betty Reid Soskin sits in front of the Rosie the Riveter Visitor Center.
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After the flood, Soskin and her family moved to Oakland, California where she remains to this day.
Soskin opened one of the first Black-owned record stores in the Berkley area called Reid’s Records, which she co-ran with her first husband, Mel Reid.
"Reid’s Records had a humble beginning, with Soskin selling records through a garage door window, but it transformed into a Bay Area institution run by her children until its closing in 2019," according to Soskin’s NPS biography website.
Soskin has shown much resilience throughout the years. That resilience was tested when she was attacked in a home-invasion robbery in 2016 where one of the items stolen included a commemorative coin given to her by President Barack Obama for being the nation's oldest park ranger.
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Other accolades include being honored by Glamour magazine in their ‘Women of the Year’ issue.
In 2019, Soskin suffered a stroke but returned to work five months later.
In June, West Contra Costa Unified School District in Richmond, California, unanimously voted to rename one of their middle schools after an iconic and much-decorated Rosie the Riveter Park Ranger.
The district's Juan Crespi Middle School became Betty Reid Soskin Middle School on her 100th birthday.
Soskin was chosen for her contributions as a civil rights activist, but also for her longtime stewardship at Richmond's Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park.
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"I am a firm believer in giving people their flowers while they are still here to smell them," the school's principal, Guthrie Fleischman said. "There are so few schools named after women and fewer named after women of color and even fewer named after Black women."
During the event on Wednesday, Soskin , whose great grandmother was born into slavery in 1846, shared that she only recently started feeling worthy of the privileges and honors, she's been receiving.
"And I will go on feeling worthy for the rest of my life," she said.
KTVU contributed to this report.