NOBODY AT the Daily News
called Floyd Culver anything but "Mr. Floyd."
"That's the kind of respect we had for him," said Bob
Palmo, district circulation manager for the papers as he
talked about a man who had been selling the papers in
the streets of the city since 1947.
He was still selling them through helpers until a few
weeks ago. After all, he was only 100 years old.
"He still wanted to be involved," Palmo said. "But
about five weeks ago, he called me and said, 'I can't do
Mr. Floyd, who began his working life on a pecan farm
in Alabama, served as a cook in the Navy in World War
II, and had been a loyal ambassador for the Daily
News and Inquirer for six decades, died
yesterday. He had turned 100 on Oct. 3.
Well into his 90s, Floyd loaded up the sturdy bicycle
he bought in 1954 with newspapers, along with his cane,
and would ply the streets of Center City and South
Philadelphia, delivering hundreds of papers to the
customers he loved. And who loved him.
If Floyd didn't show up with their newspaper on
schedule, his customers knew there had to have been an
earthquake or some other cataclysm.
Sickness was hardly an excuse.
"He didn't know what it was to take a sick day," said
his daughter, Brenda Taylor, who took care of her father
in his senior-citizen apartment at 16th and Reed
streets, South Philadelphia.
In 1999, when Floyd was 91, Inquirer writer
Michael Vitez, described him riding through the silent
streets of Center City at 3 a.m.:
"The rain is pouring. He's wearing a yellow slicker.
The balloon tires hum as they spit up water. He is
carrying 84 morning newspapers in the basket on the
front of his bike, and he has covered them with a brown
"Despite his frail, bent body and his heavy load, Mr.
Floyd executes movements that are almost balletic. . . .
He reaches and spins and twists, knowing just how much
effort is needed to slip a paper under a door or stash
one behind a screen. Every paper is lovingly delivered."
When he finished the first load, he rode back to the
distribution point, a storefront at 18th and Bainbridge,
and loaded up with the Daily News.
A major stop on his route was Graduate Hospital,
where he delivered papers to patients and staff. On his
90th birthday, the doctors and nurses gave him a
surprise party that brought tears to his eyes.
They had been tipped off by daughter Brenda, who knew
her father never would have mentioned it.
Floyd was born on a pecan farm in Headland, Ala., the
oldest of the four children of Robert Lee Culver and
Mary Lee Thomas.
Times were tough and his mother took him out of fifth
grade and made him work in a grocery store, where he
made 25 cents a day.
After he was discharged from the Navy in 1946, he
worked briefly for a quartermaster depot in Louisville,
Ky., before coming to Philadelphia.
He worked for a time for the old Philadelphia Naval
Shipyard before starting to deliver papers.
He and a helper would show up on the loading dock at
15th and Callowhill streets before dawn and load up with
1,000 to 1,500 papers, Bob Palmo said. Later, he worked
In 2001, he was knocked over by a car at 22nd and
Pemberton streets and broke his right knee. He was out
of action for eight weeks, but couldn't wait to get back
on the job. In 1998, he fell and broke a hip, which
required a replacement.
Aside from that, he's always been healthy and
"He was still cooking his own breakfast and dinner,"
his daughter said.
He retired from full-time newspaper delivering at the
age of 94. There was no party, no fuss.
"He just quietly rode off into the sunset," Brenda
In recent years, although wheelchair-bound, he
continued to sell a few papers out of his apartment.
"He was a hell of a man," Bob Palmo said. "He was a
likable guy; everybody liked him. He was a very special
Besides his daughter, he is survived by two
grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Services: 11 a.m. Feb. 12 at the Slater
Funeral Home, 1426 Fitzwater St. Friends may call at 9
a.m. Burial will be in Glenwood Memorial Park, Broomall.