In Memory

John Creveling

John Creveling

John Creveling seemed happiest when lifting up others, and his life is a page-turning portrayal of that.

John, 70, died Dec. 5, 2018 with his wife Becky at his side. The two had been nearly inseparable since marrying almost 47 years ago after having met at the University of Oklahoma.

He would be commissioned a U.S. Air Force 2nd lieutenant, heading to flight school. He soon became a jet instructor himself, patiently showing the ropes to hundreds of would-be aviators. He found time to earn his MBA at Oklahoma City University.

Then he really got serious about saving peoples’ lives: John was assigned to the USAF’s Rescue & Recovery Service, learned to fly the HH 53 ocean-going helicopter, then shipped out with Becky to Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa. There, he would eventually receive 26 of Sikorsky’s Winged S Awards, one each for saving the life of someone on mission, typically plucking them from the Sea of Japan or the vast Pacific. Fittingly, the unit’s motto is “That Others May Live.”

In time, people would stop him to thank him for saving the life of a loved one, or for helping to scatter the ashes at sea of a fellow service member.

Beginning in 1981, John was assigned to the Pentagon, where he helped shape the procurement of the next generation of helicopter, the Blackhawk. In different iterations, they are still flying throughout the military today.

He retired at MacDill Air Force Base in 1991 as a lieutenant colonel with 20 years of service.

After two two-year stints in software development, John then earned his Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation and returned to helping people, this time with their personal finances.

John Abram Creveling, born July 26, 1948 in Norman, Oklahoma, was the only child of Carol Abraham (Jack) and Beneta Mae McCreary Creveling. He was a 1966 graduate of Norman High School, where he was an award-winning musician and led the school’s marching band.

He proudly traced his military career trajectory back through his great-grandfather’s participation in some of the Civil War’s most infamous battles, but John also explored his musical gifts and used them throughout his lifetime.

In the Tampa Bay area, he was a member of Eckerd College’s woodwind ensemble and was perhaps best known as a member of a popular all-clarinet ensemble of mostly retired jazz and classical instructors known as Licorice Schtick.

He had also built a following for his wood intarsia, intricate sculptures that rely on different natural wood colors and grains to give the works their definition and depth.

John is survived by Becky and family members Camryn, Charleigh Summer Donegan-Falvey and grandchildren Lexi, Hayden, Delanie and Ryan.

A Jan. 5th family memorial service is planned.

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12/17/18 07:40 AM #1    

Mike Bagby

I cant believe that John is gone.   He has been one of my heroes since Junior High band when he played Capricio Espagnol in Harry Haines West Junior High Band and we went to Chicago as one of the top Junior High bands in the country.    John was a class act his whole life.   He will be missed.   Sherry and I send our prayers to Becky.



12/17/18 09:09 AM #2    

Mike Johnston

This was news that really hurt. John and I went back to West Junior High together. We had many adventure. He was always large for his age and on two different occasions when I was out with him he got challenged about being too old. Once when we were trick or treating as 8th graders (and a homeowner accused him of being in high school) and once when he tried to buy a child’s ticket at the Sooner theater to see a movie. We were close friends throughout  high school. We had speech  class together and participated in a number of Mrs. Ritzman’s productions. He also went to several speech tournaments with me and did well. He was quite  a learned source for me regarding rock and roll bands and rock music and he played in several local ones.

I remember wishing for years that he would come back to one of the NHS reunions, and finally—there he was (at the 50th I think). We visited a lot but he never told me much, if anything, about his Air Force career. Since my dad had Beene USAF  force pilot and flight instructor, I would have been thrilled to have heard about John’s experiences. My parents both liked John immensely. My mother spoke of him for years. Life is too fleeting. Johnny, we hardly knew ye. Rest In Peace, big guy! 



12/17/18 12:56 PM #3    

Nancy Hall

I was so sorry to hear of John Creveling's passing.  I have known John since elementary school where we met in Mrs Mashburn's first grade class.  John lived just a block away from me so sometimes we would walk home together and I was always very appreciative because there was a large German shepard dog that used to run out from a home and chase me.  As long as John was with me I was safe. We were in the same schools through high school and even though I was not in many classes with John we were both in the clarinet section of the band in junior and high school.  I always competed with him for first chair but never succeeded as he was such an outstanding player. When the band went to musical competitions many people would go to hear John perform a solo before a judge since John was so good. John was always a very kind and warm hearted individual when I knew him and after reading about his life I see that he continued to be the same.  My sympathies go out to his wife and children.

12/18/18 08:11 AM #4    

Mike Holland

The news of John’s passing saddened me greatly. I think I first met John in the third grade at McKinley grade school. He was a big guy but so kind and gentle. He was someone who was more mature than his age and always comfortable to be around. We played baseball together on the McKinley team during the school year and in the summer pee wee program, under coach John Bumgarner. I think John played first base as I have this picture in my mind of his big first base mitt, and John’s height gave him an advantage. And playing basketball during recess you always wanted John on your team because he was so tall. He was always a good student and somewhat of a perfectionist. I remember how precise his handwriting was. 


At West Jr. High I remember John playing in the band, and his Italian Parilla motorcycle. That was the coolest motorcycle I had ever seen in the days when the most common were Cushman, Mustang  and Vespa.  It was like a Ferrari sports car amongst a bunch of old Ford sedans and was commensurate of John’s personality.  Through Jr High and High school John continued his tradition of being a good student, musician and just a wonderfully friendly and warm guy. I remember us going to OU but lost track of him during those years. 


I didn’t see John until the 50th. I always wondered what happened to him as he had not attended any of the reunions. We had a wonderful catch up session over breakfast the last morning during which he graciously asked Cindy and me to come visit in Tampa. I am sad to say we waited too long. 


Rest In Peace, John. You live on in many peoples’ memories as that big, caring and gentle guy we all looked up to. You were truly one of the GOOD GUYS. 


12/19/18 12:01 PM #5    

David James

I too was saddened to hear of John’s passing and even more sad to realize how much of his adult life I missed. He was truly an outstanding academic and band student who was a friend to everyone. I knew him from first grade at McKindley and knew he was mature beyond our years. His adult career was obviously outstanding and   I know his family will miss him dearly. 

12/21/18 10:13 AM #6    

Mike Crews (Crews)

I was shocked to learn john had died. At the 50th reunion he looked like Father  Time had been much kinder to him than a lot of us. He spoke about how glad he was to finally reconnect with friends he had not seen for so long. I hoped he would make it to the Band reunion we had the next year, but sadly he did not.  We didn't have a lot of classes together but being in band at West,NHS, & OU  I saw him almost every day for years. I had forgotten about the Italian motorcycle, John always had the coolest wheels. I will always remember tooling around with the top down in his beautiful turquoise GTO. We will miss him!

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