Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home
Thursday, Oct. 6, 11 a.m., Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Catholic Church
Thursday, Oct. 6, 12 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Catholic Church
Honoring a Fallen Hero, Who Served Within the Mississippi National Guard
In recognition of our proud American tradition of honorable service which our military men and women have given to their country and our State, we honor a Fallen Hero. Our nation, our state, and the National Guard Association of MS (NGAMS) regard the memorializing of its retired military deceased as an honorable and sacred obligation.
Another great Airman and Fallen Hero has been released from duty, passed from our ranks on Sep. 29, 2022, and has moved on to his heavenly home. SMSgt(Ret) Gerald James Creel, age 91, a retired member of the MS Air National Guard who had served within the 17rd/209th CES (Gulfport) and was a Korean War Veteran, has departed and gone to a better place with our good Lord.
It takes a special person to serve within the military for their country, giving up their family time, comfort, and safety for their country, ultimately for all Americans to enjoy their freedoms, safety, and way of life. We now applaud you for your service to our country. A special message from General Douglas McArthur remains applicable today for our servicemen that have passed: “Old Soldiers never die; they just fade away”.
Rest in Peace Soldier. We applaud your patriotism and brave efforts in serving our country and your family for their support of your service. We thank you for your service. Without your efforts and your families’ support, our country would not stand so boldly, shine so bright and live so free.
You now have earned a rest, so go fly with the Angels, go rest high on that mountain; your work on earth is done. Go to heaven a-shoutin’ Love for the Father and the Son.
Obituary, visitation, and service details:
June 17, 1931 – September 29, 2022
Biloxi, Mississippi – Funeral services for Gerald J. “Sunshine” Creel, a native and lifelong resident of Back Bay Biloxi, will be Thursday, Oct. 6: An 11 a.m. visitation and noon Mass of Christian Burial at Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Catholic Church. Burial, with military honors, will follow at Biloxi National Cemetery.
He died Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, at the age of 91.
Gerald James Creel was born to J.A. “Tony” and Gladys Ward Creel on June 17, 1931. “Jerry” would be in the middle of five larger-than-life brothers: Joe, Francis, Nicky, Arthur and Billy.
He graduated in 1949 from Biloxi High School, where he earned the nickname “Sunshine.” When he entered the U.S. Army in 1951, he told the Army that he had been a “can closer” at Southern Shell Fish Co. for 10 years.
That entry into military service would launch a 38-year association with the uniform, including 20 years in the National Guard.
It was in 1959, at age 28, that he married Frances Kuluz. Back Bay met Point Cadet. It was a 63-year odyssey of family, faith, fun and fidelity, producing three children and four grandchildren, and a lifetime of memories.
Jerry Creel was a veteran of the Korean Conflict era, serving in the U.S. Army’s Battery C 115th AAA Gun Battalion from 1951 to 1953. He achieved the rank of corporal before his honorable discharge. In the National Guard, he had attained the rank of master sergeant in the 173rd at retirement in 1991. His career included commendations for Camille efforts in 1969, an Oak Leaf Cluster for Meritorious Service, and the Mississippi Magnolia Medal.
He also had worked at United Gas Co. before settling on a career as a civilian firefighter at the Seabee Base in Gulfport, which began in 1966. Early in his 23-year career as a firefighter, he would sometimes jump on back of a Biloxi fire truck as it made the corner onto Lameuse enroute to a call from the nearby Back Bay Fire Station.
His love of firefighting at age 55, in 1986, ushered in a retirement that would span nearly 40 years. He enjoyed some part-time work at the Isle of Capri. He enjoyed the camaraderie and fellowship that was attached to his honorary membership in the Slavonian Lodge and his 53-year, lifetime membership in Biloxi Elks Lodge 606, where his fellow Elks named him Elk of the Year in 2009.
Like so many, he lost his home to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and, like so many, he built back, at age 75. His community involvement in those post-Katrina years was a boon. He relished the adventure of locating and transporting the new Elk, replacing the hornless Elk that had stood in front of the beachfront Elks lodge. That new Elk stands today. The roundtrip to just south of Jackson for him and Billy Senseney took longer than normal because, he maintained, they frequently stopped to feed and water the Elk. Inside of the lodge, he contracted a muralist to create renderings of several Biloxi landmarks for all to enjoy.
He loved history. He loved Biloxi, and Biloxi politics, especially politics of the past. He cherished fishing, and, later in life, throwing a castnet from the Point Cadet fishing bridge or the Lighthouse or Coliseum piers. Those activities added to his quality of life.
He loved to dance, whether it was at a carnival ball — he was a member of many back in the day — or at a weekly Sunday jam session, to the music of the people he knew, especially Charlie V. & The Personalities, or Ray Fournier, the Checkmates or Zapata’s Revolution, or even the Rockin’ Rebels, or Hank Williams Sr. at Sie’s Place.
He was well-liked for a reason. That endearing nickname of his meant that he was known as more than a fair-weather friend. He was unassuming. He was respectful. He had a sense of humor and a sense of responsibility. He was endearing and enduring.
He was preceded in death by his parents, J.A. “Tony” and Gladys Ward Creel; a son, Scott Michael Creel; and his five brothers: Joe, Francis, Nicky, Arthur and Billy.
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Frances Kuluz Creel; a son, Vincent A. Creel (Natalie); a daughter, Gerry Ann Creel Holt (Jim); and four grandchildren, Jared, Jeffrey, Jedediah and Matthew.
Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home in Biloxi is honored to serve the Creel family.
View and sign online tribute at www.bokfh.com