Floyd Treadway Case, a pioneer Orange County rancher who celebrated his 106th birthday last January and was believed to be the county's oldest resident, has died in Santa Ana, it was learned Monday.
Case died Saturday at Carehouse Convalescent Hospital in Santa Ana where he had been under care for about two weeks. Before his health began deteriorating two months ago, Case had insisted upon living alone at his ranch home as a happy bachelor.
"When anyone asked him about his longevity, he'd always say it was because he never married," recalled his 79-year-old second cousin, Mildred Field of Orange.
Although he joked with relatives about the joys of bachelorhood, in a 1983 interview Case said he regretted not marrying and not having children to take care of him in his old age. He said he came close to marrying when he was doing ranching work in Ventura County years ago.
"I kept company with two different sisters in Fillmore," Case said. "I wanted one of them, but the other wanted me, and I didn't want her. I proposed to the one, but she turned me down."
Field said Case abstained from cigarettes and alcohol, "and that also helped him live a long life."
An independent centenarian, Case loved his car and loved to drive it, his cousin said.
"The Department of Motor Vehicles wouldn't renew his driver's license after his 105th birthday, and he really growled about that," Field said. "He loved to drive and the freedom of being able to get in his car and go wherever he wanted."
Case was a Southern California pioneer who was the son of pioneer parents.
"He would always tell family members about being born under a covered wagon in Iowa as his parents were moving to Nebraska . . . from either New York or Vermont, we're not sure which," Field said. "But he was born on Jan. 1, 1881."
Case moved to Los Angeles from Nebraska in 1902 and worked for a produce market at Melrose and Vermont avenues delivering groceries in a horse-drawn wagon for $7 a week.
In the 1983 interview, Case said he used to have trouble then making ends meet because rents were high. He was paying $5 a week for room and board, he recalled.
Case bought and sold several small ranches in the San Fernando Valley before moving to Orange County about 1910.
"He had a ranch in the El Modena area of Orange and he lived there for the rest of his life," Field said.
In addition to Field, other survivors include a first cousin, a niece and five nephews.
Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Shannon-Donegan Mortuary Chapel in Orange. Burial will be in Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Glendale.