On Tuesday, a mere two weeks after she was brutally attacked, beaten, and robbed in her home in the San Francisco Bay Area of Richmond, California, the oldest park ranger in the nation has returned to work. Upon her return, Betty Reid Soskin found herself greeted with cheers and hugs.
The 94-year-old Soskin is a full-time park ranger at the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond and actually began working with the park service when she was 85. The nation’s oldest park ranger leads guided tours through the historical California park and museum and gives a history of the women who found themselves working in various factories during wartime.
With her bruises having healed, the Washington Post reported that Betty Reid Soskin says she was eager to get back to her normal routine after she was attacked, beaming as she was embraced by her fellow park rangers.
“I wanted to get back into routine life. The experience took something away from me, and I’m still trying to measure that. I don’t know what that is, except that something’s missing now. I didn’t think there was any way to prepare myself for this moment. It’s so good to see you all and feel the support of the community.”
The elderly woman was attacked on June 27 during a home invasion and was robbed of her cellphone, laptop, jewelry, and also her prized possession of a commemorative coin given to her by President Obama in December after she had the honor of introducing him at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony last year at the White House.
The tale the oldest park ranger told is a harrowing one, straight from many nightmares, waking in the middle of the night to find an intruder in her home, in her room. Soskin says that the man had a flashlight and was standing near enough to her that when she grabbed for her nearby cellphone, he was able to grab it first. A struggle ensued between the two and the attacker ended up dragging the park ranger from her bed through a hallway, and there, he delivered multiple punches directly to her face.
The Inquisitr previously reported on the vicious attack of the nation’s oldest park ranger, a robbery and physical attack which left the elderly woman with a badly bruised face and a split lip. Betty Soskin even says that she thought “he was going to kill me,” and just barely managed to get away from the man and lock herself in the bathroom. In case the attacker broke in, the woman plugged in an iron and prepared to “brand” him.
Unfortunately, the man who attacked, beat, and robbed the 94-year-old is still reported to be at large.
For several days after the break in the ranger says that she hid out in her home, reluctant to show her face in public for fear of people seeing her with the bruises to her face and putting her on YouTube. NBC Bay Area reported that Soskin has also expressed a fear of her attacker being caught, saying that “I think I need him to remain in the shadows.”
The boss of the nation’s oldest park ranger, Park Supt. Tom Leatherman, told the media that he was actually been contacted by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel and was told that the White House would be replacing the coin. Members of Soskin’s community, as well as her colleagues, joined together and raised over $50,000 to help her replace the other items that were stolen from her.
According to the National Park Service, the money will also help to fund a documentary about Betty Soskin, not just because she is the oldest park ranger in the nation but also because of her familial history. A 2005 interview with the Department of the Interior, Soskin had said that her great-grandmother had been born into slavery in 1846 and lived until she was 102. Soskin was 27 when she died.
“I was a grown woman having met my slave ancestor.”
One of the things that draws many persons to the ranger’s tours, often being booked up two months in advance, is that a lot of the things she speaks of are done “from memory.” The oldest park ranger in the nation says that she also wears her uniform at all times to serve as a little bit of inspiration to the younger generation.
“When I’m on the streets or on an escalator or elevator, I am making every little girl of color aware of a career choice she may not have known she had. That’s important. The pride is evident in their eyes, and the opportunities get announced very subtly to those who’ve lived outside the circle of full acceptance.”
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]