Betty Reid SoskinAge: 93
Betty Reid Soskin has been an office worker, a record store owner and a political staffer. But it wasn’t until she was well into her 80s that she found her dream job.
Seven years ago, she became a park ranger at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, Calif. Three times a week, she shares with visitors what it was like to work in a segregated union hall during World War II — how she never saw herself as a “Rosie” since black women weren’t hired to do the same work as white women.
“It seems to me that all of the things I’ve done leading up to this period were in preparation for what I’m living now,” said Soskin, who is the country’s oldest full-time park ranger. “So it’s rather an enviable spot to be in. I wouldn’t think of retiring.”
Soskin says she joined the park service “almost accidentally” after helping advise on the creation of the park while working as a field representative for a local state assembly person.
A social activist for much of her life, Soskin made news last year for speaking out against the government shutdown, which left her furloughed from work.
“I still think of her as an activist, but she’s not out there on the picket lines anymore,” said park superintendent Tom Leatherman. “She’s found a way to tell those stories she thinks need to be told, but is doing it in a way which is very non-confrontational and is very personal.”