In a surprise ceremony in Concord Sunday, 94-year-old park ranger Betty Reid Soskin received a new commemorative presidential coin to replace the one that was stolen from her during a violent burglary at her Richmond home last month.
NBC Bay Area reports that Soskin had attended Sunday’s ceremony honoring the Port Chicago explosion of 1944 and memorial at the Concord Naval Weapon Station.
During the ceremony, Soskin was surprised when U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell presented her with a replacement commemorative coin from President Obama. While Soskin had been informed in recent weeks that she’d be receiving a new coin from the president, she apparently didn’t know it would be presented during the ceremony.
According to NBC, “Soskin clapped her hands over her mouth to show her surprise and excitement. She didn’t speak, but received a standing ovation as she left the podium. When she sat down, she quickly opened the envelope sent to her by President Obama and pulled out a new coin, rubbing it in between her fingers and holding it up for all to see, a big grin on her face.”
Soskin is the nation’s oldest park ranger and is beloved within the Richmond community as a genuine, sincere and humble local celebrity.
She had received a commemorative coin from President Obama in December, when she was selected to introduce the president at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
That coin was stolen, however, during the violent home burglary in her second-floor apartment in the Hilltop area on Jun 27. The thief, who remains on the loose, attacked Soskin as she slept, punching her in the face multiple times when she resisted. Soskin managed to flee and lock herself in her bathroom while the thief ransacked her home and made off with the coin, an iPad, laptop and cellphone.
Soskin triumphantly returned to work last week.