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'Life keeps opening up': America's oldest park ranger on working at 93

by Elizabeth Murray /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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At 93 years of age, Betty Soskin is the oldest park ranger in the United States. And after launching her park ranger career at 85, she’s showing no signs of slowing down.

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Tourists hang on Soskin's every word while she guides them through the national Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Park. The park, which opened in 2001, highlights the influx of working women who filled the Richmond, California shipyards during World War II.

Soskin herself worked through the war as a clerk in a segregated country, the great-granddaughter of a slave who passed away when Soskin was 27.

Soskin has a family history of living a long and healthy life. "My great-grandmother lived to be 102. My mother lived to be 101. My great-aunt lived to be 107," she said. "They were active until they died."

Which is why Soskin herself didn't hesitate to start a new chapter as a park ranger 12 years ago.

"I'm not sure I even wanted to be [a park ranger]," she said. "This is the turn that my life took."

Working five days a week, Soskin said she finds meaning in every tour and every time she puts on her uniform.

"I still love this uniform," she said. "Partly because there's a silent message to every little girl of color that I pass on the street or in an elevator or on an escalator who suddenly has announced that there's a career choice she may have never thought of."

As for plans for retiring, "life keeps opening up," Soskin said. "And as long as that's true, and as long as I'm developing new questions, then I'm going to go on living it."

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