National Park Ranger That Just Retired at 100 Has Roots In Detroit
There's no doubt that Betty Reid Soskin is a legend. As a matter of fact, she's been making history her entire life, so it's fitting her retirement from the National Park Service would seal the deal.
Betty Reid Soskin has officially retired from her duties as a park ranger at the age of 100, making her officially American's oldest to ever hold the job. Friends, co-workers, and family gathered on Saturday, April 16th, at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California to celebrate the living legend.
Soskin played a major role in seeing the Rosie the Riveter project come to fruition in conjunction with the World War II Home Front National Historical Park in 2000. That involvement with the planning process landed her a temporary job with NPS at the young age of 84, and in 2007 at the age of 85, she officially became a park ranger.
Betty Reid Soskin's Connection to Detroit
Betty Reid Soskin was born Betty Charbonnet in Detroit on September 22, 1921. Her parents were both from Louisana, with her father coming from a Creole background, and her mother from a Cajun background. Her family relocated to New Orleans, and eventually to California. Betty's great-grandmother had been born into slavery in 1846, and much of that fueled her life's mission to tell the stories of the past and educate for change and equality.
Her life before the NPS was also filled with milestones and accomplishments. During World War II, Soskin worked as a shipyard clerk for Boilermakers Union A-36, an all-black union auxiliary. Then in 1945, Soskin along with her husband made another mark in history. Together they founded one of the first Black-owned music stores, "Reid's Records". The business came to an end in 2019.
Her success as a park ranger came from her incredible love of storytelling not just of American history, but of her history and that of other women from diverse backgrounds.
"To be a part of helping to mark the place where that dramatic trajectory of my own life, combined with others of my generation, will influence the future by the footprints we've left behind has been incredible," Soskin said in the NPS's statement."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"
Congratulations on your retirement Betty. You are a true American treasure.