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Oldest US park ranger celebrates 100th birthday

A park ranger is celebrating her 100th birthday, making her the oldest park ranger in the United States.

Born on Sept. 22, 1921, Ranger Betty Reid Soskin hit the century milestone on Wednesday.

“Happy 100th to Ranger Betty Reid Soskin!” the National Park Service (NPS) wrote on Facebook. “Betty Reid Soskin is the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service. Over the past decade and a half, Ranger Betty has shared her experiences as well as the efforts and sacrifices of women from diverse backgrounds living and working on the WWII home front at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park.” 

Soskin originally lived with her Cajun-Creole, African American family in New Orleans until it was hit by the “Great Flood” in 1927, at which time her family relocated to Oakland, Calif, according to NPS.

During World War II, Soskin worked as a file clerk in the segregated union hall for Boilermaker’s A-36. In 1945, Soskin and her husband, Mel Reid, opened Reid’s Records — one of the first black-owned music stores — which closed recently in 2019.

She began volunteering for the NPS in a temporary position when she was 84 and became a permanent employee in 2011. Soskin can be found heading programs and sharing her personal anecdotes with visitors at the park’s visitor’s center, providing them with glimpses into the past and realities of both women and African Americans during World War II. 

She finds her work both important and fulfilling, enjoying sharing her historical knowledge and experiences with others. “I think it’s important we all follow our passions,” Soskin told ABC News. “We all need passions.”

The NPS has encouraged visitors to share their photos and favorite experiences with Soskin on Facebook.

Tags National Park Service

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