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103-Year-Old Becomes Grand Canyon Ranger


The Grand Canyon celebrated 100 years as a national park this week. Its 6 million visitors per year include someone older than the park. In January, Rose Torphy traveled to the Grand Canyon, and at age 103, she joined the Junior Ranger Program.

ROSE TORPHY: The Junior Ranger Pledge - I promise to discover all I can about the Grand Canyon National Park and to share my discoveries with others.


The brand-new junior ranger was born in 1915, when the president was Woodrow Wilson and nations were fighting the first world war. She went camping as a kid and grew up to become a homemaker and bookkeeper. She now lives in northern Illinois with her youngest daughter.

INSKEEP: And that daughter, Cheri Stoneburner, was present with other family as her mom took the Junior Ranger Pledge in a store run by the Grand Canyon Conservancy.

CHERI STONEBURNER: She started talking to one of the people from the gift shop. And they said, well, you know, you don't have to be a kid to be a Junior Ranger. You could be a Junior Ranger no matter how old you are. And all of a sudden, my daughter stops, and she goes, Mom, I think Grandma's being sworn in as a junior ranger (laughter).

INSKEEP: It was a special moment for Torphy, who had visited the park before with her late husband.

MARTIN: She hopes her work as a junior ranger will help preserve the park for her three daughters, nine grandchildren, 18 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren.


MARTIN: It's hard to keep track. This is what she loves about being a junior ranger.

TORPHY: Just talking to people - they see my badge on my coat and ask, how come I'm a junior ranger? And I say, you're never too old.

INSKEEP: Torphy has now returned to Illinois. But remember, she has taken a pledge to share her discoveries, so she is encouraging friends and family to plan their Grand Canyon getaways.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANDREW BIRD SONG, "SPARE-OHS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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