Older Black woman in park ranger uniform. She is holding a coffee cup, sitting in a cushioned chair with leopard-print blanket and surrounded by books

NPS Ranger Betty Reid Soskin Celebration Set for April 16

Older Black woman in park ranger uniform. She is holding a coffee cup, sitting in a cushioned chair with leopard-print blanket and surrounded by books

Betty Reid Soskin, seen in 2018, has retired from the National Park Service six months after turning 100. (David Meza / The CC Pulse file)

By Michael J. Fitzgerald

A public celebration to honor just-retired National Park Service Ranger Betty Reid Soskin will be held Saturday, April 16 from 1-2 p.m. at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.

The event is open to all ages, and no reservations are required.

Soskin turned 100 last September. She retired after a decade and half of sharing her personal experiences and the efforts of women who worked on the World War II home front. On her last day, she gave one of her regular talks at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

“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 remarks to the public and co-workers who had gathered on her last day.

>>>Read: Richmond’s Park Ranger: Why Betty Reid Soskin Has ‘No Time To Waste’

Soskin became a permanent NPS employee in 2011, leading public programs at the park visitor center.

“Betty has made a profound impact on the National Park Service and the way we carry out our mission,” NPS Director Chuck Sams said in a press release. “I am grateful for her lifelong dedication to sharing her story and wish her all the best in retirement. 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. Congratulations, Betty!”

Before she joined the NPS, Soskin was part of the meetings with the city of Richmond and the agency to develop the plan for the national historical park.

She also worked with the NPS on a grant funded by PG&E to uncover untold stories of African Americans on the home front during WWII. Her work on that led to a temporary position with the NPS when she was 84.

“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. “It has proven to bring meaning to my final years.”

The acting superintendent of the Rosie the Riveter historical park offered high praise for Soskin’s work too.

“The National Park Service is grateful to Ranger Betty for sharing her thoughts and first-person accounts in ways that span across generations,” said Naomi Torres in a press release. “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.”

For more information about the Soskin celebration at the Rosie the Riveter park, visit the park website, www.nps.gov/rori, or call the visitor education center at (510) 232-5050.

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