EL SOBRANTE, Calif. — Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service, celebrated her 100th birthday Wednesday and she received a gift that is set to stand the test of time.
KGO reports that a middle school in El Sobrante, California, was renamed in her honor: The Betty Reid Soskin Middle School.
In an interview with the San Francisco TV station, Soskin said she’s overwhelmed and moved by the honor.
“Having a school named for me is more than I ever could have thought of. Because it means that a number of children will go into the world knowing who I was, and what I was doing here. And maybe it will make a difference. I think maybe it will make a difference,” said Soskin.
In her current role at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Park in Richmond, California, Soskin shares her experience as a Black woman working during the war as a file clerk in a segregated union hall.
Soskin has accomplished a lot in her lifetime. Along with being a park ranger, she is an author, a musician, and a civil rights activist.
“I feel, I don’t know how I feel. I feel sometimes 100 and sometimes 8 and sometimes 50,” she told KGO’s Liz Kreutz.
When asked if she has a key to a long life, Soskin said she’s not sure there’s a secret. But it may come down to genetics, since her mother lived to be 101 and grandmother, who was born a slave in 1856, lived to be 102, KGO reports.
Soskin has lived through several U.S. presidents, but she says former President Barack Obama stands above the rest for her. She got the chance to meet him at an event.
“Standing with Obama on the stage in Washington, D.C., I had in my hand a little evening bag. In that bag was a picture of my great grandmother, and I was holding it as I was introducing the president of the United States in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, in the shadow of the White House that was built by slaves. The whole meaning of that has really captured me.”