The country's oldest full-time park ranger, 94-year-old Betty Reid Soskin, was recently robbed of belongings including a coin given to her by President Obama bearing his seal. KTVU reports that Soskin, who serves five days a week as a tour guide at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, was the victim of a break-in at her Richmond home.
"I fully expected he was going to kill me," the nonagenarian said of her intruder, who has not been found. "[He] doubled up his fist and hit me a couple of times on the sides of my face with all his might."
That thief absconded with her iPad, laptop, and phone — but those she could part with. It's the commemorative coin she got from the sitting president that she says she can't live without. "If I can get that coin back I think I can forgive anything," Soskin told KTVU.
Fortunately, the Chronicle reports that she'll get her wish. Obama will replace the coin that she held so dear.
The AP recalls that Soskin was most recently in the news in 2013 when she objected to a government furlough. At her age, she complained, she didn't have time to waste, rallying cries against congressional Republicans who brought government to a halt in an effort to defund Obamacare.
ABC7 had a profile of Soskin back in 2013, and it's worth revisiting: As an African American woman in public service — she worked as a clerk for the all-African American Boilermakers Union A36 — Soskin has dealt with threats and violence for much of her life. For example: A cross was burned on her lawn in Walnut Creek where she lived with her husband and their three children. "It was absolutely devastating," she recalls.
Still, Soskin didn't give up her home then, and she won't now. "This is my space and it was invaded and I need to reclaim it so I’m going to stay here," she told KTVU. As you can tell by now, here is a woman of strong words and ideals. "I wish I'd had [the] confidence when the young Betty needed it to navigate through the hazards of everyday life on the planet," Soskin wrote on her personal blog last year. "But maybe I'm better able to benefit from having it now - when I have the maturity to value it and the audacity to wield it for those things held dear."