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Our Fiercest Park Ranger: What Will You be Doing at Her Age?

Next Tribe Betty Reid Soskin the badass park ranger who ensures that the role of women in World War II is not overlooked

Our National Parks have been in the news for a lot of sad reasons (lack of funding among them), but here’s some upbeat news: Betty Reid Soskin, age 97, is on the job as our nation’s oldest and most amazing park ranger.

Her life story is quite incredible: Of Creole and Cajun background, she experienced racism – even death threats — when her family moved into a white suburb. She worked with her first husband managing a music business and was a noted songwriter in the Civil Rights Movement. Working for a California assemblywomen, Soskin was instrumental in planning and creating the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, which was established in 2000.

It commemorates the contributions of women to the war effort, and Soskin has been applauded in particular for how she worked tirelessly to be sure the African-American experience was part of the park’s history and purpose. Today, she works there greeting guests and sharing in tales of those heroines from decades past.

Her spirit and her work ethic are remarkably strong: After being the victim of a violent robbery last year, Soskin waited until her bruises were fully healed so she could put, quite literally, her best face forward on the job. She is not one to ever show weakness. You can follow this iconic woman’s adventures at

Janet Siroto

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