By Mark Waite
Ron Floyd, one of the pioneers of the Pahrump Valley who moved here in 1962 and operated a long-time hardware business, died Friday. He was 77.
Ron and Charlotte Floyd moved to Pahrump from Chowchilla, Calif. They initially stayed with Charlotte’s brother Frank Woner; Ron was promised a job at the cotton gin and Charlotte a job in the office.
There wasn’t much here at the time, Charlotte Floyd recalled. The Mankins family had a small cafe where Bank of America is located now at the junction of Highway 160 and 372, then there was the Cotton Pickin’ Saloon, which is now Irene’s Casino.
“We came over the first time in 1960 to visit my brother and my sister. When we came off of Highway 95, it was this gravel road and I thought we were lost in the desert. We got here and they were having a dance in the middle of the road right there where the cotton gin was at the intersection,” Charlotte Floyd recalled.
Ron Floyd’s Pump House opened soon after their arrival, operating out of a 20-foot by 50-foot store in their house on West Street where New Hope Christian Fellowship is now, using a building shipped over from Nellis Air Force Base, Charlotte Floyd recalled. They served the farmers irrigating the Pahrump Valley.
The Floyds bought a lot of their parts in Bakersfield, Calif. They sold things like galvanized fittings, pipe, bulk oil and grease and other agriculture necessities.
In the early days, business was often done using an honor system, in which customers would leave their money on the counter.
“They wrote their own invoice. We billed everybody. At that time I had Mike, our youngest one and a lot of days I’d be taking care of him next door or I’d be running into Vegas for supplies and a lot of time it wasn’t manned. I don’t think we ever lost anything that way,” Charlotte Floyd said.
When farming diminished, Ron Floyd went into the pump and septic tank business as people began moving to Pahrump, she said.
“An awful lot of the trees that you see in Pahrump and all of the mulberry trees you see in the Petrack park, Ronny went over to Modesto and helped plant them. He knew the owner of Davis Nursery over there, he had to buy those, but he gave him an awful lot of seedlings. Ron brought them back, gave them out to locals. He didn’t like this treeless place,” Charlotte Floyd said.
Back in 1964, when Pahrump had only 600 to 700 people, it was a community effort building Petrack Park, she recalled.
“The whole community got together on that park. We decided we needed a community building and everybody and their children were out there raking rocks and everything else. Walt Williams of the Pahrump Ranch donated that acreage,” Charlotte Floyd said.
She said Ron Floyd, together with their son Bruce, Ray Wulfenstein and his son Jim, built the first football field in Pahrump and subsequent football fields to follow. Ron Floyd was active in the chamber of commerce and served as president in the 1980s after rodeos started being held in Pahrump, she said.
The Floyds built the red barn in 1981 to house their hardware store in the Charlotta Inn, where Parker’s Kawasaki dealership is now, across from the Saddle West Hotel and Casino. In 1986, the first half of the Floyd’s Ace Hardware store was built on Loop Road, the addition came 10 years later.
During an interview in 1998 for the Nye County history project, Jacqui Ruud, his sister-in-law, recalled Ron Floyd stayed in business buying property, then subdividing it and selling it.
“He’s one of these self-made people and he says he stays in business and out of politics,” Ruud said. “He’s always helped a lot in a lot of different areas, schools and the community itself, willing to loan his equipment and his men and time to help build something.”
“Ronny always had visions way beyond what was really realistic as far as making money,” Charlotte Floyd said with a laugh. “He always envisioned this town of at least 50,000 people and it almost got there.”
“He really was a man who loved working, absolutely loved his family, got very great joy out of his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. That’s what kept him going these last 20 years almost,” she said.
Ron Floyd wasn’t very active since he had a major heart attack in 1994, Charlotte Floyd said. He died after fighting a bout with pneumonia for a month, she said.
In November 2007, Ron and Charlotte Floyd broke ground for Floyd Elementary School, named in their honor on Susquehanna Avenue. The Floyds sponsor a $5,000 scholarship for Pahrump Valley High School graduates.
Charlotte Floyd said when Floyd’s Ace Hardware closed in February 2012 it was progress. The business should’ve closed a couple of years sooner, she said, but they kept it open a little longer for their daughter, general manager Julie Moore.
The Floyds’ children kept up the family tradition of community involvement.