After a decade and a half, 100-year-old Betty Reid Soskin is hanging up her hat as a National Park Service ranger, but she didn’t leave without sharing her personal experiences as someone who worked on the home front during World War II one last time.
Soskin, who celebrated her 100th birthday in September, has had a prolific career. The former ranger worked as a file clerk in a segregated Union hall during World War II, and then opened up one of the first Black-owned music shops with her husband, Mel Reid, which closed its doors in 2019. She has been a city council member, and served as a field representative for two members of the California State Assembly.
She helped develop the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, and later joined the National Park Service as a permanent staff member, where she focused on telling “untold stories of African-Americans on the Home Front during WWII” through interpretive programs.
“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 a statement.
Soskin, who remembers Amelia Earheart’s historic takeoff according to her biography on the National Park Service’s website, wrote a memoir, “Sign My Name to Freedom,” in 2018, which was based on a blog she had been writing for the past 10 years sharing stories of her personal history.
“The National Park Service is grateful to Ranger Betty for sharing her thoughts and first-person accounts in ways that span across generations,” Naomi Torres, acting superintendent of Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, said in a statement. “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.”