Betty Reid Soskin, The Oldest Active Park Ranger In The National Park Service, Retired At 100 Years Old

Chip Chick

Betty Reid Soskin, a beloved ranger at Rosie The Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, California, has recently retired at one hundred years old.

She will not only be remembered as "the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service" ever but also for her lifelong contributions to educating the public on history.

In September of 1921, Betty was born in Detroit, Michigan. After living through the "Great Flood" in 1927, she moved to Oakland, California, during the Great Migration. There, her career began to blossom.

Betty is credited with founding Reid's Records in Berkley in 1945– one of the very first Black-owned record stores in the area. Betty and her husband, Mel Reid, worked diligently to get the business off the ground.

Their love for music and entrepreneurship blossomed into a well-known family business that operated until 2019.

Betty is also an accomplished musician in her own right and, in 1964, wrote "Your Hand In Mine." This song highlighted Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist.

Betty used music as an escape to cope with and highlight social inequities, prejudices, and political polarization. She continued composing and performing throughout the years.

Then, in 2000, Betty visited the Rosie The Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park and found a new avenue to share her essential perspective on history.
Betty Reid Soskin; pictured above is Betty

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According to the National Park Service (NPS), "Betty knew first-hand that the story of women who worked in wartime industry also included experiences with racial segregation and discrimination, and that these stories needed to be included in the park's interpretive material and historical documentation."

So, in 2004 at eighty-five years old, Betty became a park ranger with the National Park Service. Her rich history and experiences quickly catapulted her to fame.

"President Barack Obama presented Betty with a presidential commemorative coin in 2015, and the following year she was honored with entry into the Congressional Record. Glamour Magazine also named her woman of the year in 2018," NPS wrote.

Since retiring on March 31, the NPS has also dedicated a special farewell message to Betty on Facebook.

"Betty spent the last decade and a half sharing her personal experiences and the efforts of women from diverse backgrounds who worked on the World War II home front. Her interpretive programs at Rosie The Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park also illuminated the histories of African Americans and other people of color," NPS wrote on their Facebook page.

"We are grateful for Betty's lifelong dedication to sharing her story and wish her all the best in retirement!" added NPS.

The National Park Service also included a quote from Betty reflecting on her experience as a ranger.

"Being a primary source in the sharing of that history– my history– and giving shape to a new national park has been exciting and fulfilling. It has proven to bring meaning to my final years," Betty said.

The Facebook community showed an outpouring of love for Betty's commitment and resolve. The post gained nearly fifty thousand likes, eleven thousand shares, and almost two thousand comments.

"Congratulations, Betty! You are a shining example of America and its diversity! We salute you! Best of luck on your retirement," wrote one commenter.

"Thank you for your service, Betty! Congratulations on your remarkable career!" added a second commenter.

"Wow, a truly wonderful legacy. Happy birthday and happy retirement to you. Thank you for your dedication!" said a third commenter.

To learn more about Betty's exceptional story or wish her well in retirement, visit the Facebook post linked here.

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