A renowned ranger for the National Park Service has announced her retirement at age 100.
Betty Reid Soskin spent her last day at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. She led programs and shared her personal experiences with the public.
Born in Detroit in 1921, Soskin’s Cajun-Creole parents moved to Louisiana when she was a child.
After being displaced and hundreds of thousands of others, their next move was to California after the Great Mississippi Flood in 1927.
In World War II, she was discriminated against while working for the U.S. Air Force before becoming a file clerk for a segregated union auxiliary.
Having opened Reid’s Records with her husband Mel in 1945, the Berkeley store grew into an institution, and, when it closed in 2019, it was the oldest record store in California.
After working as a political staffer at the local and state levels in the 1980s and early 1990s, she began to work on the plans for a national commemoration of Rosie the Riveter and the women of World War II.
As her involvement with the park increased, she became a permanent national park employee in 2011.
Soskin has advocated integrating Black women’s stories into the park’s history throughout her career. Additionally, she hopes to see her will inspire girls of color.
Soskin said, ‘On Today Show,’ “I still love this uniform. I feel compelled to let every little girl of color I see on the street, in an elevator, or on an escalator know that she has a career choice that she may not have considered.”
The park plans to celebrate Soskin’s retirement in April.