Editor’s Note: In preparation for the Sesquicentennial Celebration honoring 150 years since the founding of Jacksonville, a series of articles will be published focusing on notable personalities in the city’s history.
Although he is not a native of Jacksonville, Dr. Charles Creed and his wife, Jeanette, came to the city as quickly as they could, finding its residents to be warm and welcoming.
Creed, a local dentist who is now retired, grew up in Warren, Arkansas, but came to Texas after high school to attend Baylor University. After completing his studies at BU, he went to dental school in Dallas.
Because he had a deferred draft status, he knew he would soon be called up to duty; so instead, he volunteered and joined the United States Air Force, offering his services. He was sworn in on the day he graduated from dental school.
In the meantime, he had met Jeanette. She laughs that the union was meant to be.
“I went to the school to get cheap dental care,” she said. “I came back with a husband.”
The couple married in 1954, just after the Korean War had ended. When Dr. Creed’s military orders came, he was assigned to serve in Japan.
“I took a bride abroad,” he quipped.
When they returned stateside, they began to look for a town in which to settle. They wanted a small town, with a friendly atmosphere. They looked first in Arkansas, to be near his parents, but no place seemed suitable, so they drove into Texas and began a search that took a few weeks. They liked what they saw in Jacksonville, and the people they met, and chose to begin their residence in the town.
“The people were so friendly,” Jeanette said. “In fact, we weren’t here two hours when Frank Burroughs and B.B. Fields showed up to welcome us.”
She added that Burroughs was the minister of Central Baptist Church, where she and Dr. Creed joined almost immediately, and where they have remained active ever since.
Dr. Creed’s first dental office was in the old First National Bank building that was located on Main Street. That building was eventually torn down; the bank was located across the street, and then purchased by Austin Bank. While Dr. Creed’s office was in the old building, however, he occupied an area on an upper floor, where he could look out and see many of the industries that have now disappeared from the city’s landscape, such as J.C. Penney, Marja’s Brassiere, and the Liberty Hotel. He moved to the new Austin Bank building when that facility was completed, and operated his dentistry practice there for about 10 years, before opening his own office on Highway 79, sharing the purchase and building with Dr. James Adams.
He said he is grateful to the Austin Family for having always been supportive.
“The Austins have always been very helpful,” he said. “They made a place for me; even loaned us the money to build the new clinic.”
Jacksonville at the time was a busy place. Dr. Creed remembers some of the more notable perks of living in the city.
“Jacksonville was more of a medical center,” he said. “We had Nan Travis Hospital and Travis Clinic, also Newburn Hospital. People would drive for miles to visit the clinic. Of course, that was before Tyler’s medical facilities grew.”
His wife added that most people did not drive to Tyler to shop back then, because there was ample shopping in Jacksonville.
“The downtown was bustling. You could buy clothes; a man could buy a suit, a woman could buy a dress. There was even a hat shop and three jewelry stores. We had Lang’s, The Diamond Shop and Lowell’s Jewelry. And, the Liberty Hotel had good food, before it burned,” Jeanette said, adding that the town also had Nichols Photography Studio and photography by Mack Bagley.
With all that busyness, the town needed the overpass that was eventually built. “People needed to get to the hospital, and to their jobs,” Dr. Creed said, “and they were being stopped by the train that ran through town.”
When he opened his office on Highway 79, he was the first dentist in town to utilize a dental hygienist, using the services of a Distributive Education (D.E.) student, Pam Waites.
“I think this was probably the beginning of the time when people started going to the dentist for more than just extractions and dentures,” he said.
Because he knows so much of the history of Jacksonville, Dr. Creed serves weekly as a volunteer at the Love’s Lookout Welcome Center. He also has served, and continues to serve, as a director of Austin Bank.
His past service includes serving on the Jakcsonville ISD school board for 16 years; as a director for Nan Travis Hospital board for many years – too many to recall, he said; and president of the East Texas Dental Society.
Dr. Creed also served two, three-year terms on the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Jeanette Creed separately served the same amount of time on that board.
His service also included a year stint as a trustee with the Texas Association of School Boards, and he has been a member of Jacksonville’s Rotary Club since 1957.
“I’m the oldest member in Rotary now,” he laughed.
The Creeds’ son, Dr. Brad Creed, is president of Campbell University in North Carolina, and their daughter, Sarah, has been a teacher for 30 years. The couple also has four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
“We’ve been blessed. Jacksonville has been a good place to live and raise children,” Dr. Creed said, with his wife in agreement. “People don’t have to go to Dallas or Houston for their quality of life. Lots of people want to come here.
“We’re here for the duration.”