News and Events

President Obama to Replace Coin Stolen From NPS's Oldest Ranger

Betty Reid Soskin, 94, was attacked in her home last week.

Park ranger Betty Reid-Soskin
Betty Reid-Soskin (Photo by Jim Heaphy)

President Obama has pledged to replace a comemmorative coin stolen from Betty Reid Soskin, the nation’s oldest serving park ranger, in a violent home invasion last week.

Reid Soskin, 94, was beaten and robbed in her California home on the morning of June 27. Soskin’s attacker made off with a wealth of valuable personal items, most notably a commemorative medal presented to her by the president.

KTVU San Fransisco reported that Soskin, 94, was dragged from her bed by an unknown intruder. After receiving multiple blows to the face, she locked herself in a bathroom and grabbed a clothes iron. “I figured if he would come in I would brand him and that would mark him for the police,” Soskin told KTVU. 

The face-off never came. 45 minutes later, Soskin emerged to find her apartment ransacked, and her medal gone.

“If I can get that coin back I think I can forgive anything,” Soskin said to reporters. Soskin received the coin during a White House tree-lighting ceremony meant to honor her service to the nation. Only six years shy of 100, Soskin still guides tour groups five days a week at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, California.

Days after the attack, Soskin’s somber tale took a bright turn. After hearing of her story from the Secretary of the Interior, President Obama agreed to replace the keepsake

Reid Soskin grew up hearing horror stories of plantation life from her great-grandmother, who was born into slavery. Soskin carries her photograph with her wherever she goes. 

In spite of her injuries and age, Soskin refused to be treated at an area hospital, says Tom Leatherman, Soskin’s park superintendent. Apart from minor bruising, she is recovering well.

“She’s doing fine, physically,” Leatherman told SFGate. “But emotionally, it’s difficult.”

Soskin’s community came together to help her recover financially. A GoFundMe campaign set up on her behalf has already raised over $15,000. Over the weekend Soskin thanked her benefactors, and said that the money will help her “re-establish my home on the planet.”