RICHMOND, Calif. (AP) — The nation’s oldest full-time park ranger was greeted with cheers and hugs 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 fellow rangers embraced her Tuesday at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, facing San Francisco Bay.
“It feels wonderful,” she said of being back at work, “because it gives me another chance at establishing a new normal. Sitting around home in the space where all that happened was a little less comforting.”
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.
“I’ve learned enough out of that traumatic experience that I can take care of myself, that I was a match for the intruder,” she said.
The attacker has not 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 also made headlines in 2013 when she complained about a government furlough, saying she didn’t have time to waste sitting at home at her age.
Soskin said Tuesday that she’s never thought about retiring.
“I have been contemporary I think at every decade of my life … and I think as long as that’s true, I’ll go on giving what I can and receiving what is possible,” she said.