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Betty Reid Soskin, Our Fiercest Park Ranger, Still Working at 100. Rock On!

At 100, Betty Reid Soskin is the nation's oldest and most amazing ranger, protecting national parks and helping ensure WWII women aren't 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 100, is on the job as our nation’s oldest and most amazing park ranger. Yup, you’re read that right. Betty Reid Soskin is 100 years old.

Her life story is quite incredible: Of Creole and Cajun background, she experienced hardship after a hurricane destroyed her home New Orleans home, which prompted the family to move to California. During World War II she worked as a file clerk for Boilermakers Union A-36, an all-black union auxiliary After the war, she worked with her first husband managing a music business and was a noted songwriter in the Civil Rights Movement.

Living in Walnut Creek, California in the 1950s, she and her family were subject to considerable racism. She and her husband were subject to death threats after they built a home in the white suburb, where their children attended better public schools. 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.

Read More: On Her 100th Birthday, We Contemplate Where We’d Be Without Betty Friedan

Rosie the Riveter and Beyond

The park 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.

Betty Reid Soskin is not one to ever show weakness.

Her spirit and her work ethic are remarkably strong: After being the victim of a violent robbery several years ago, 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.

Time has given her great perspective, as you might suspect. “Wish I’d had [the] confidence when the young Betty needed it to navigate through the hazards of everyday life on the planet. But maybe I’m better able to benefit from having it now–when I have the maturity to value it and the audacity to wield it for those things held dear.”

We want to be Betty Reid Soskin when we grow up. You can follow this iconic woman’s adventures at on her blog here.

Read More: A 92-Year-Old Filmmaker’s 5 Secrets to a Long and Fascinating Life

A version of this story was published in January 2018. 

By Janet Siroto


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