The nation’s oldest active park ranger hangs her Smokey hat at the age of 100 after she only started working for the National Park Service at the age of 84 to tell the ‘untold stories’ of the efforts of black people in World War II.
Betty Reid Soskin retired Thursday after more than 15 years at the Rosie the Riveter / WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, Californiaannounced the National Park Service.
Soskin ‘spent her last day giving an interpretive program to the public and visiting with colleagues,’ said a statement from Park Service.
She led tours of the park and museum to honor the women who worked in factories during the war and shared their own experience as a Black woman during the conflict. She worked for the U.S. Air Force in 1942 in a segregated trade union aid called the Boilermakers Union A-36 and was responsible for submitting address change cards to the workers, who often relocated.
“Being a primary resource in sharing that history – my history – and shaping a new national park is exciting and fulfilling,” Soskin said in the Park Service statement. ‘It has proven to bring meaning to my last years.’
Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest active ranger of the National Park Service (NPS) ever, retired on March 31 after a decade and a half of sharing her personal experiences and the efforts of women from diverse backgrounds who works on World War II
President Barack Obama greeted Betty Reid Soskin and awarded her a presidential coin for her civil rights and service of national parks at a Christmas tree lighting in Washington in 2015
Soskin won a temporary Park Service position at the age of 84 in 2007 and became a permanent Park Service employee in 2011. She celebrated her 100th birthday last September.
“Betty has made a profound impact on the National Park Service and the way we carry out our mission,” said Director Chuck Sams. “Their efforts remind us that we must seek and give space to all perspectives so that we can tell a more complete and inclusive history of our nation.”
Home Secretary Deb Haaland, whose role includes responsibilities such as managing public land use and maintaining national parks among many others, pays homage to the ranger after more than 15 years as a member of the National Park Service.
“Park Ranger Betty Reid Soskin has been a pioneer for women and the Park Service,” she tweeted. ‘After countless trips to @RosieRiveterNPS and millions of smiles, she’s retiring today. On behalf of @Interior, thank you, Betty, for your service. You will be missed ‘
Secretary Deb Haaland, who oversees the National Park Service and its natural parks, thanked Soskin for her 15 years as a ranger, saying she contributed to ‘millions of smiles’.
Soskin was born Betty Charbonnet in Detroit in 1921, but remembered her survival from the devastating 1927 Great Mississippi Flood while living with her Creole family in New Orleans, according to the Park Service biography.
Her family then moved to Oakland, California, and Soskin stayed in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she and one of her first husbands founded one of the first black-owned record stores in the area, the biography said. The couple and their children faced a lot of racism, and she was the subject of death threats after they built a house in a white suburb.
She was also a civil rights activist and participated in meetings to develop a general management plan for the Home Front Park. She has received several honors.
She was named California Woman of the Year in 1995.
Before becoming a park ranger at the age of 84, Soskin worked as an architect during World War II and also set a record in Berkeley, California, specializing in gospel music.
Soskin worked in a segregated unit of the Boilmakers union (pictured), during World War II with other black women responsible for submitting workers’ documentation
In 2015, Soskin received a presidential coin from President Barack Obama after she attacked the National Christmas tree in the White House.
While learning of the veteran ranger’s retirement on Thursday, the former president tweeted: ‘I heard Betty Reid Soskin retired at 100, and would like to congratulate her on more than a decade of service as a National Park Ranger.’
‘Betty, I hope you realize how many people appreciate everything you’ve done – myself included,’ he added.
In June 2016, she was awakened in her home by a robber who punched her several times in the face, dragged her out of her bedroom and beat her before leaving with the coin and other items.
Soskin, then 94, recovered and returned to work just weeks after the attack. The coin was replaced.
Soskin was also honored with entry in the Congress record. Glamor Magazine named her wife of the year in 2018.
President Obama congratulates Soskin on her public service after learning of her decision to retire on March 31, noting that
After learning of her retirement, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who previously represented the families of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, said on Twitter:
‘The oldest active ranger of the National Park Service, Betty Soskin, has retired at the age of 100! She has been a source of inspiration to many Black girls and has done an amazing job at Rosie the Riveter Park! We wish her a happy and peaceful retirement! ‘
The National Park Service also paid tribute to her highly regarded employee and congratulated her on a ‘remarkable career’.
The government bureau announced that it will host an event to celebrate Soskin’s retirement on April 16 in Richmond, California, at the Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Pack.
Other influential figures, including civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, and environmental groups also took to Twitter to congratulate the centenary
Betty Reid Soskin – the oldest active Park Ranger in the US – retires at 100 years old Source link Betty Reid Soskin – the oldest active Park Ranger in the US – retires at 100 years old