Creal Funeral Home and Cremations: The vision continues

Leon Major Thomas III
Leon Major Thomas III

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – With the death recent death of 47-year-old Leon Major Thomas III, Creal Funeral Home and Cremations’ future was uncertain until his family stepped in to continue his visions.

In June, Yushondia Evers-Thomas laid her husband, the owner and visionary behind the new look of Creal, to rest.  As she mourned, the one thing that stood out in her mind was his vision. The funeral home started with Robert Creal in 1964, and will not end with Thomas III’s untimely departure.

Evers-Thomas and her family will take over where he husband left off. With a learning curve ahead of her, George Woodie, licensed funeral director at Westside Funeral Home in Palmetto, will help with the transition.

Hydeia Thomas, Yushondia Evers-Thomas and Lachondeia

Hydeia Thomas, Yushondia Evers-Thomas and Lachondeia

Their daughters, Hydeia, who is a graduate of Howard University with a degree in health science, and Lachondeia, will also bring added value as well. It will be business as usual at Creal, and the vision shall continue.

Longtime owner and family advocate, Creal opened the funeral home in 1964 with a vision to serve the families of Pinellas County with affordable, loving care for post-life needs.

He carried that vision of service through good times and lean times; often doing full burials for family’s who couldn’t afford the service. His giving to people was so great that it landed him in financial despair. With a genuine heart, he gave until his death in 2014.

In 2007, Thomas III began working with Creal at the funeral home. In 2010, Creal poured the vision into the young, energetic Thomas III, who sought to expand.

A St. Pete native, Thomas III was born Nov. 25, 1970, to the union of Leon and Charlye Thomas. He attended Pinellas County public schools and was a graduate of Pinellas Park High School in 1988.

At an early age, he developed an interest in the mortuary profession from his late grandfather, Major Thomas, who assisted in operating Delores Mills Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale. At the age of 16, he obtained his first job at Smith Funeral Home. He remained there throughout his high school years.

Following graduation, Thomas enrolled at Miami Dade Community College of Mortuary Science. While in Miami, he worked for Range Funeral Home under the direction of M. Athalie Range. Later, he worked for Poitier Funeral Home under Bernard Poitier, where he gained more knowledge and experience.

During this time, he expanded his endeavors to advertisement and entrepreneurship. He launched his own business called Advantage International, Inc., a funeral supply and advertisement company.

Later, by means of Heritage Coach, Thomas III was able to add a new component to Advantage International, Inc.–the selling of funeral vehicles. Advantage International, Inc. served many funeral homes across Ala., Fla. and Ga.

 In 2014, Thomas III became the owner of Creal Funeral Home and Cremations. His vision included taking his knowledge and passion and building on the founder’s vision.

Thomas III initially was astounded by the outstanding debt owed to Creal by families whom he had given so much but was unable to get a return in his time of desperate need. Thomas III had to get the finances in order for his vision to come to fruition.

Now, Evers-Thomas is making sure that Creal’s and her husband’s vision continues, while still keeping her catering service alive, Southern Sweets by Shonda Catering. And like her husband, she enjoyed serving family and friends.

“When people have a need, service to those people is what is most important. Products and services may change, but the way that you make people feel when they have a need is what people will remember the most,” said Evers-Thomas.

To reach Dexter McCree, email dmccree@theweeklychallenger.com

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