OAKLAND, Calif. - A lifelong Oakland resident, who held the title as the oldest living man in California, has died. Giles "Bud" Cropsey died on Wednesday, just ten days after he marked his 111th birthday.
Cropsey was born and raised in Oakland and was described by family members as the "biggest cheerleader" for the city he loved.
For the past seven years, Cropsey had been a resident of Sunrise Senior Living on Skyline Boulevard in the Oakland Hills.
From the windows of the assisted living facility, Cropsey could actually get a glimpse of the neighborhood where he was born on Sept. 4, 1911.
"Bud," as he was known to family and friends, grew up poor and started working at a young age to help keep his family afloat after his father got ill and lost his job. That upbringing, his family said, was something that shaped his modest yet giving nature throughout his whole life.
"He was born in a family that was what we would consider very poor. Three boys in Oakland. The boys slept in a screened-in porch," the family said, noting that there were many "Oakland stories" shared from those early days.
"Bud" Cropsey would tell of the horses that were used for construction. They would trot down the unpaved roads of the city, leaving behind droppings. "The children on his street would fight over the manurer for their garden to grow vegetables," daughter-in-law Ann Cropsey shared.
He would later become a successful certified public accountant in Oakland, where he handled many major accounts, with clients including newspaper magnate William Hearst and Napa Valley's Mondavi Winery, according to his family.
After retiring, Giles Cropsey did not slow down and remained active in a variety of ways. He loved to travel. He attended concerts and was a big fan of the Oakland Symphony. He also worked in the walnut farming business together with his son Duane Cropsey in Lodi.
He was an environmentalist before his time, his family said. He hated waste and reused and recycled every chance he got.
He also gave back to his city. He worked with kids in music, volunteering at Oakland schools and offered free piano lessons.
His family said, often, he gave more than just his time. "Some of his students didn’t have a piano, so he bought them a piano," Ann Cropsey recalled of her father-in-law.
His generosity was demonstrated in numerous other ways over the years.
While teaching at Oakland's Roosevelt School, when he saw that the music room was run down, he paid to get the room re-carpeted, so the kids would have a better, more conducive environment for learning.
His family described him as a practical man who took action to help wherever there was a need, especially when it involved the students.
"He saw that the kids would have lunch and be in the sun, so he bought patio umbrellas for the tables," Ann Cropsey said.
His practical nature bled into his sense of humor.
When people asked about his secret to longevity, he would simply respond, "Don't die," is daughter-in-law shared laughing as she added, "He had that funny sense of humor that was really practical."
Despite holding the title as the oldest man in California, his family said that they didn’t consider his age when thinking about the rich, active life he led.
"Duane and I are heartbroken," Ann Cropsey said. "Like the queen, we knew he wasn't immortal, but we didn't really acknowledge his age."
He was walking the hills of Oakland all the way up until he was 103 when he moved into his senior home.
And that move came because he did not want to leave his city. After suffering a second fall, the family tried to get him to move in with them in Lodi, but he refused to leave Oakland.
Duane Cropsey said that he and his wife would frequently visit his father. They would walk down with him to the lower level of his senior home, look out toward the bay, and get a sweeping view of his city.
"He'd talk about what a wonderful city it was. There is no city like this," the son recalled his father saying.
Oakland native Giles Cropsey, considered California's oldest man, seen here with his sone Duane Cropsey at the Sunrise Senior Living the Oakland Hills. (Cropsey Family )
As the family mourned Cropsey's passing, they were finding solace in the fact that his three children and other family were able to be together to celebrate his birthday earlier this month.
While he lost much of his speech toward the end of his life, his family said he managed to express his love and gratitude. "He acknowledged at one point that we were all there at his birthday," his the family said, adding, "He was at peace knowing his three children were able to be there."
And for the family, there was much comfort in knowing that until the very end, Giles "Bud" Cropsey was Oakland through and through.
They said that he died peacefully in his sleep and noted that the last meal they saw him eat was ice cream from Oakland's famous ice cream company Dreyer's.
"And he got to die in Oakland," Cropsey's daughter-in-law said. "He was a big presence, and we will miss him terribly," she shared.
There was also peace in knowing that he made the most of his 111 years.
As he paid tribute to his father's life, Duane Corpsey said, "It’s hard to say anything other than, dad lived a very, very full life."
Oakland native Giles Cropsey seen on Father's Day in June 2022. Cropsey died on Sept. 14, 2022 at the age of 111. He was considered California's oldest man, according to Gerontology Research Group, which verifies and tracks supercentenarians. (Cropsey Family )
Oakland native Giles Cropsey, seen here in December 2021. Cropsey, 111, held the title as California's oldest living man. He died on Sept., 14, 2022. (Cropsey Family )