Betty Reid Soskin, the National Park Service’s oldest active ranger, retired on Thursday, only months after celebrating her 100th birthday.

According to a statement from the National-Park-Service, Soskin worked for more than a decade at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park after joining the agency full-time in 2011. The park, which is located in Richmond, California, aims to increase awareness of American people’ achievements and experiences on the home front during WWII.

As Soskin stated in a statement released by the National Park Service, “being a part of helping to designate the location where that dramatic trajectory of my own life, together with those of others of my generation, will affect the future through the imprints we’ve left behind has been fantastic.”

Soskin worked as a park ranger, leading public programs with visitors and sharing her own personal memories from World War II during her time there. She also tried to bring attention to the tales of African Americans and other people of colour who were marginalized throughout the conflict.

The opportunity to be a primary source in the telling of that history — my history — and the shaping of a new national park has been both exciting and rewarding, according to Soskin. “It has proven to be a source of meaning in my later years.”

On Instagram, the National Park Service praised Soskin’s efforts, stating, “We are grateful for Betty’s lifelong dedication to telling her story and wish her the best of luck in her retirement!”

Soskin had a long and winding road to get to the NPS.

She was raised in an African-American family of Cajun-Creole origin in Oakland, California, and worked as a file clerk at a segregated union during World War II, according to the National Park Service.

She and her husband went on to start Reid’s Records, one of the country’s first Black-owned music stores, before working as an office worker and a political aide.

Soskin finally found her calling in her eighties, working for the National Park Service and sharing her tale. She grabbed the attention of the White House a few years later, and in 2015, she was chosen to introduce President Barack Obama at the White House tree-lighting ceremony.

Soskin will be honored with a retirement event on April 16 at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

“She has used memories of her life on the Home Front, taking meaning from those experiences in ways that make that history truly important for those of us living now,” Naomi Torres, acting superintendent of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, said in a statement.


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