Oldest US Park Ranger Back at Work After Thief Steals Coin

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
July 12, 2016 Updated: July 12, 2016

RICHMOND, Calif.—The nation’s oldest full-time park ranger was greeted with cheers and hugs Tuesday when she returned to work three weeks after an assailant attacked and robbed her in her San Francisco Bay Area home.

Her bruises healed, Betty Reid Soskin, 94, beamed as she was embraced by fellow rangers at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond facing San Francisco Bay.

“I wanted to get back into routine life,” the smiling Soskin told KNTV (http://bit.ly/29MMiMT). “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.”

Police said an intruder punched Soskin repeatedly in the head and made off with items including a cellphone, laptop and jewelry on June 27.

The thief also took a coin Soskin received from President Barack Obama when she introduced him at last year’s National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the White House.

Soskin called the encounter terrifying and said the blows split open her lips.

The attacker hasn’t been caught.

Park Superintendent Tom Leatherman said he received an email from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, informing him that the White House planned to replace the stolen coin.

Soskin’s colleagues and members of the community raised more than $50,000 to help her replace the other items and fund a documentary being made about her, according to the National Park Service.

Soskin became a ranger about 10 years ago and leads tours at the historical California park and museum honoring women who worked in factories during wartime.

She made headlines at the tree-lighting ceremony and in 2013 when she complained about a government furlough, saying she didn’t have time to waste sitting at home at her age.