GV man celebrates 100 active years of life
Someday, Floyd Comstock and Holly Shepard may meet – and if they do, Comstock, who turned 100 Tuesday, can teach Nevada County’s first baby of the year a thing or two about living forever.
When asked how he feels, Comstock is direct.
“Well, I’m working on 200,” he quipped, seated inside a wing at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.
“He’s thinking about what he’ll see in the next 100 years,” said his daughter, Marilyn Tilford, who helped Comstock celebrate his birthday at the hospital, where nurses threw him a party, complete with balloons and a teddy bear.
It’s been a long, wonderful trip for Comstock, who lived long enough to remember much of when Oakland and the East Bay were planted in orchards and who recalls the days he helped build one of San Francisco’s oldest and most fabled hotels.
Comstock was the youngest of 12 children. Now he is a great-great grandfather. One of his earliest memories is riding in a horse-drawn wagon from Chico to Oakland, where his family moved into a gabled English home just after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
“There were miles of open country back in those days,” said Comstock, who is at the hospital recuperating from a broken pelvis he suffered a while back as he moved a chair for his wife of 75 years, Esther.
The couple renewed their vows in a ceremony June 17 at the Brunswick Inn retirement center, where Esther lives. Comstock will move back there Thursday, celebrating with a party.
“I don’t know if I’m going to handle it,” he said.
He added, “To meet a couple who has been married for 75 years, with all their marbles, is a lot more rare than meeting a 100-year-old.”
After graduating from Oakland Technical High School in 1917, Comstock went on to the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied engineering and architecture, earning high honors upon his graduation.
He worked as a draftsman in San Francisco, designing the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and the old Wells Fargo building. He opened his own office in 1947, in Walnut Creek, and later designed a library for that city.
Comstock was the 97th person to gain an architectural license in California when he received it in 1932. He kept his office until retiring in 1967. He moved to Grass Valley from Roseville in the mid-1990s.
Comstock’s other daughter is Janice Lassagne of Napa.
Tilford and Comstock’s son, David, both say their father is one of the heartiest men they’ve met.
“He’s been in such good health for 100 years. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, and he wasn’t a couch potato,” Tilford said. Comstock used rowing machines or walked frequently before he fell in October.
“It was all pretty easy for him for the first 99 years,” Dave Comstock said.
These days, Floyd Comstock paints whenever the mood strikes – and that’s often.
“It’s very fun. It beats everything,” he bellowed.
He uses watercolor – even though he’s legally blind. His paintings have been exhibited at the hospital.
“I just don’t see how he manages to do so much with so little eyesight,” Dave Comstock said. “He’s amazing.”
“It’s been hard sometimes to get him to stay optimistic, to tell him he’s going to come back from all of this, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him living to see his 101st.”
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