Bradford-O'Keefe Celebrates Return To Downtown Gulfport

Friends, family and supporters filled the main funeral chapel Monday morning.

Unlike so many gatherings there, this was a happy occasion. A new red brick building sits at the entrance to downtown Gulfport; a building that's more than a business.

"This is a real institution. This institution is older than any of the banks on the gulf coast and possibly any other business," said Jerry O'Keefe.

Katrina tested the endurance of the institution. Located so close to the water, the funeral home's first floor was blown out by the storm. Despite extensive damage, a portion of hope remained.

"One of the things that I immediately noticed was the structure. The main super structure was still intact. So, I knew then there was a possibility it could be recovered," said Jeffrey O'Keefe.

Six generations of O'Keefe and Lang families that served coast families in their times of greatest need, will continue to be there.

"Now we have people that come back as a corporate business and an entity. But not just that. As family members and participants and founders of this community, to rebuild this thing and to cut a ribbon," said Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr, "To come back better than it was before is just such an incredible commitment."

Mayor Warr said folks usually come to the funeral home with a heavy heart, but the crowd Monday came with happy hearts.

It was a happy, welcome occasion and another significant step in long term storm recovery.

"It's just a wonderful day for the Bradford-O'Keefe team," said Jeffrey O'Keefe.