Rosie the Riveter park’s most famous ranger retires at age 100
on March 31, 2022
America’s oldest active park ranger, Richmond’s Betty Reid Soskin, who weaved her real-life experiences in the 1940s into programs at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, retired quietly Thursday, six months after celebrating her 100th birthday.
Soskin spent her last day on the job doing the work she has enjoyed for more than a decade — educating the public at the park, the National Park Service said in a news release. Soskin has been involved with the Rosie the Riveter site since its inception more than 20 years ago, helping with planning and programing.
“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,” Soskin said in the release. “It has proven to bring meaning to my final years.”
A public recognition ceremony is set for 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South, in Richmond. No reservations are required.
Soskin made national headlines in September when she marked the centenary of her birth in uniform, prompting a visit from ABC News, among others. That day, the West Contra Costa Unified School District named a middle school in her honor.
Thanking Soskin for her service, Naomi Torres, acting superintendent of Rosie the Riveter park, said, “She has used stories of her life on the Home Front, drawing meaning from those experiences in ways that make that history truly impactful for those of us living today.”
After celebrating her 90th birthday, Soskin told Richmond Confidential that she was more interested in what was not at the park. Doing her own research and drawing on her own experience, she created programing that highlighted the experiences of African Americans and Japanese Americans during World War II.
Born in Detroit when Warren G. Harding was president, Soskin moved to Oakland with her family when she was a child. She was a file clerk for the Boilermaker’s A-36 union during World War II. And in 1945, she and her husband, Mel Reid, founded Reid’s Records in Berkeley, which operated for 75 years, according to Soskin’s bio on the Park Service’s website.
She started working for the Park Service at age 84 and has been a permanent employee since 2011.
Park Service Director Chuck Sams called Soskin’s impact “profound,” adding, “Her efforts remind us that we must seek out and give space for all perspectives so that we can tell a more full and inclusive history of our nation.”
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