Oldest Active Ranger in National Park Service Retires at 100: 'Congratulations, Betty!'

Betty Reid Soskin began her career as a ranger at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park when she was 85 — now, a decade and a half later, she's retiring

Betty Reid Soskin
Betty Reid Soskin. Photo: National Parks Service/Instagram

It's the end of an era for Betty Reid Soskin.

The oldest active ranger in the National Park Service (NPS), who celebrated her 100th birthday in September, announced her retirement on Thursday.

The move came "after a decade and a half of sharing her personal experiences and the efforts of women from diverse backgrounds who worked on the World War II Home Front," NPS said in a statement.

"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.

"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," she added. "It has proven to bring meaning to my final years."

For her last day, she provided "an interpretive program to the public" and also spent time with her coworkers.

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Soskin began her career as a ranger at age 85, leading visitors on tours at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, PEOPLE previously reported.

Her decision to join came after Soskin served as a NPS consultant while they were researching the formation of the park. At the time, she was the only person of color in the room and became an integral part of making sure the park didn't erase its history of racial segregation.

Throughout her tours, Soskin often discussed her unique backstory, which includes working at a segregated union hall as a file clerk during World War II and later becoming a political and community activist and songwriter during the civil rights movement.

"Though I am not a trained historian — my tours are necessarily a way to share my oral history with the public," Soskin remarked during an interview with TODAY back in 2015. "I tell the story of the African-American workers."

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"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 statement on Thursday. "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!" Sams added.

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"The National Park Service is grateful to Ranger Betty for sharing her thoughts and first-person accounts in ways that span across generations," added Naomi Torres, acting superintendent of Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. "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."

Betty Reid Soskin. Justin Sullivan/Getty

In response to news of her retirement, many on social media offered their own messages of goodwill in celebration of her dedication to the parks.

"BETTY!!! Thank you for your service. Enjoy retirement," the official social media account for Yellowstone Park commented." Let us know when you're gonna come visit us in Yellowstone!"

"What an incredible gift you gave us all. Thank you Ranger Betty," wrote one social media user, while another simply added, "Happy Retirement Queen! 💐. "

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