February 22, 2018

The amazing true story of Park Ranger Betty Reid Soskin

She is the oldest national park ranger in the country with a legacy of representing Black shipyard workers on the home front.

Betty Reid Soskin standing in front of the Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond, California.

Betty Reid Soskin is 96 years old yet lives her life with more energy and vitality than many people half her age. Over the course of her eventful life, she has been a staff member for the California legislature, a mother, an artist, a singer and an activist.

In her current role as a park ranger (she is the oldest national park ranger in the country), she gives weekly tours at the Rosie the Riveter World War II National Home Front Park in Richmond, California. Kaiser Permanente, through the Rosie the Riveter Trust, has been a major sponsor and champion of the park, which is the birthplace of our health plan.

In this podcast, Betty talks about her childhood and coming of age in Richmond, working for the union representing the African American shipyard workers there during World War II, and finding her identity as an African American woman.

She also shares her admiration for Kaiser Permanente co-founder, Henry J. Kaiser, who she considers to be a “great industrialist” and a man who forged ahead with audacity, both in building ships and creating a health plan for workers.

Betty Reid Soskin has become an icon for our time. Among her most important contributions has been adding the female African American voice to the home front story. She just came out with a memoir, “Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life.”