Creal Funeral Home and Cremation: Family ties in business

BY RINITA ANDERSON, Urban Exposure

ST. PETERSBURG—The late Robert L. Creal was the founder and owner of Creal Funeral Home. Upon his death last years, he left the care of his business to Leon Thomas, III. Earlier this year he purchased the funeral home and became the legal president and CEO.

Growing up in the same neighborhood as Creal, Thomas’ father taught him at an early age that business is all about forming long lasting partnerships that will yield mutual benefits.

Mr. Thomas, III

Mr. Thomas, III

Thomas has worked in the funeral industry since he was 16 years old and knew Creal professionally for more than 15 years. During and after college he worked for two of the largest south Florida black funeral homes in the state (Range Funeral Homes and Poitier Funeral Home).

He was able to gain hands-on experience with both business conducting more than 1,000 funerals a year. That experience led him to start his own company named Advantage Internationals.

There Thomas’ company serviced over 400 funeral home accounts throughout the southeast United States and Caribbean. He was also re-acquainted with Creal.

His company supplied funeral homes with hearse and limousine services, imprinted church fans, provided embalming chemicals and supplied other funeral related items. Thomas also specialized in providing management consultations for funeral home owners.

These are just a few of the reasons why Creal felt confident that Thomas could take on a 60-year legacy of Creal Funeral Home.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be cultivated by business leaders at the top of my industry,” said Thomas. “They took time to nurture me and helped me to reach my business potential goals.”

Thomas also gives thanks to his mother and father for teaching him the importance of a good work ethic. As a child his father, Leon Thomas, II, was a phenomenal handyman who worked on large projects and his mother, Charlye Mae Lancaster Thomas, instilled in him how important discipline and education was for having a good quality of life.

His mother is a former educator who taught at Walsingham Elementary in Largo for more than 30 years. In that time she nurtured and educated hundreds of children, many from the Dean Moore projects and surrounding areas.

Carlee Creal

Carlee Creal

Creal was married to Keturah Sanchez Creal, who helped run the day to day operations. Their only grandchild, Carlee Creal, is the current family liaison. According to Carlee, a businesswoman who is now in her early 20s, her paternal grandparents invested time, guidance and energy into making sure that she understood the business world.

Her maternal grandfather, George Collier (the pool man), gave Thomas’ father his first opportunity as a contractor when he built Scat 34 and George’s Pool’s office building. The two families have been intertwined for years; in fact, Creal’s wife was also a teacher like Thomas’ mother and she taught little Leon in the first grade.

To find out what professional services and products Creal Funeral Home & Cremation has to offer, please call (727) 896-2602 or visit their website at Crealfuneralhomeandcremation.com.

Creal Funeral Home and Cremation is located at 1940 7th Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

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