Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Homes celebrates 150 years; Jerry O'Kee - - The News for South Mississippi

Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Homes celebrates 150 years; Jerry O'Keefe accepts major award

Dozens of people gather to celebrate Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Homes 150th anniversary. (Photo source: WLOX News) Dozens of people gather to celebrate Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Homes 150th anniversary. (Photo source: WLOX News)

Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Homes celebrates 150 years this year. On Friday, an open house was at the Ocean Springs location to celebrate the anniversary. People from all over the coast came to honor the family run business.

This day was also a time to award Jerry O'Keefe, who represents the fourth generation, with a very special honor for his military service.

"We were in the livery business and so people would travel to Ocean Springs to bath in the natural artesian springs. They were said to be of a healing nature and so we would transport them around town in our livery," said Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Homes President Jeff O'Keefe.

During the 1800s the O'Keefe's, on occasion, were called on to transport people to cemeteries and that's how the family livery business, started by Edward O'Keefe, transitioned into a funeral business.

"I'm a fifth generation currently with my father being the fourth. And the sixth generation is in training. So to commemorate this milestone of 150 years is somewhat unique for a lot of businesses, which don't succeed that long," said Jeff O'Keefe.

His son, Jeff O'Keefe Junior said his family's business is rewarding.

"A common thing in this industry is people say, 'It's more of a calling as opposed to a profession.' It really is a lifestyle change. It's all encompassing. You're incorporating other people's feelings into your own. So your family is growing day by day, case by case," said Jeff O'Keefe Junior.

Dozens of people came to celebrate the 150 year milestone. They also picked up the family's history book and had it signed by Jeff Junior's grandfather Jerry O'Keefe.

Jerry was also honored with a special proclamation from Mayor Connie Moran and a key to the city of Ocean Springs.

Jerry, who was a fighter pilot in WW2 was also given a congressional gold medal for being a part of the American fighter aces, which is someone who was responsible for the destruction of five or more enemy aircraft.

Lt. Jerry O'Keefe is one of 77 American Fighter Aces still alive. Congressman Palazzo's office said, our country has had over 60,000 fighter pilots, only 1,447 were distinguished as fighter aces.

Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral homes has six locations on the coast and the only crematory in the state of Mississippi.

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