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Looking Back, at Age 95

From the oldest-working park ranger, a 2016 Influencer in Aging, who retired at 100

By Betty Reid Soskin

Editor’s note: Influencer in Aging Betty Reid Soskin, 100, the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service, retired on April 1, 2022. Next Avenue is republishing this blog post she wrote in 2016 on CBreaux Speaks.)

Betty Reid Soskin
2016 Influencer in Aging Betty Reid Soskin

My voice will be stilled in the not too distant future, I know, and just who will be my replacement hasn't yet been determined. Or, maybe I'm just not aware of how that process will play out over time, and that's how it should be. After all, we're each one-of-a-kind human beings, not to be cloned except maybe in the case of identical twins, but even that may be improbable.

Perhaps those things we see in ourselves as flaws are really what make us unique and un-clonable, maybe?

It becomes more puzzling with each day — just why this relatively frail and inconsequential woman in her final decade has come to the attention of "The World," a world she has stood in awe of throughout a long and rather ordinary existence.

Only, in looking back, that life may have been far less ordinary — in the living of it — than I ever realized.

The ups may have been higher and the lows far deeper — all leading to an extraordinarily rich life experience, for all the pain or pleasure it brought.


It's only in retrospect that I can see that, and realize that all of it was providing the enhanced energy and a keen perceptiveness that I'm able to access today as all of that aliveness appears to be on tap when I'm before audiences in my little theater presentations. I seem to be able to draw upon what turns out to be common and universal themes that connect with others.

This may be the only way for me to make sense of the magic ...

(Next Avenue invited other 2016 Influencers in Aging to write essays about aging. Max Richtman wrote this essay on what he would like to change about aging in America.)


Betty Reid Soskin is a Next Avenue 2016 Influencer in Aging and the oldest full-time ranger for the National Park Service. Read More
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