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The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

Ex-SH teacher Christine Creel has died after battling breast cancer for 15 years; memorial service set for Saturday, April 29, in Fullerton church

Social science teacher Christine Creel with some of her students from the Class of 2005; Creel, who retired in 2013, died Wednesday, March 26, of breast cancer, and a memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday, April 29, at 10 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Fullerton. (All images used with permission from Robert Bradburn.)

A memorial service for former Sunny Hills social science teacher Christine Creel, who died of breast cancer last month, will be held Saturday, April 29, at the First Presbyterian Church of Fullerton.

Anyone may attend the 10 a.m. service at the Euclid Street church, but attendees are encouraged to wear vibrant colors, surviving family members said.

“That was one thing she specified,” said Monica Lacy, one of the triplets whom Creel gave birth to and a Class of 1988 graduate. “She wants us to be celebrating a life well lived, so we’re going to be wearing bright colors — no black.”

After her breast cancer returned 15 years ago, the former wife of Winston Creel — known for being Sunny Hills’ mascot, Winston the Lancer, from 1986-2015 — died Wednesday, March 26, in her home surrounded by family, Lacy said. She was 77 years old.

Christine Creel retired in 2013 from her teaching position at Sunny Hills, where she taught World History, Honors World History and Advanced Placement [AP] Art History.

“She absolutely adored art history and history of people, and she loved her students,” Lacy said. “Almost every sentence she said started with, ‘One of my students,’ and then she would tell us a story about how fantastic a former student was; she was bragging about them until the end.”


Lacy gave the following account of her mother’s life:

After graduating in 1963 from Savanna High School in Anaheim, Christine Creel attended Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa for a few semesters before marrying her husband, who was an Army officer at the time. They then moved to Schwabach, Germany, where her husband was stationed. During her two years there, she worked as an X-ray technician.

Upon returning to Fullerton, she gave birth to triplet daughters in 1970 and raised them while working part time and volunteering with the SH Parent Teacher Student Association until 1988, when her children graduated from Sunny Hills.

She then returned to college at California State University, Fullerton, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in art history, leading her to become an SH teacher in 1995.

“I learned a lot about persistence and perseverance and that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself and have a life that you want because she started her whole career after she raised her family, which I thought was really cool,” Lacy said. “After kids, a lot of people think their life is quote-unquote over, but she started over and started again.”

Long-time colleague and social science teacher Robert Bradburn also noticed Christine Creel’s passion as an educator and her unique teaching style.

“She loved things that were beautiful, and she had an excited feeling about art and beauty that rubbed off on other people so that they started to feel that art, culture and learning were really fun,” Bradburn said. “She would cover her walls with images; she had slide projectors and digital projectors so that it was just a wall of information, so she used technology very heavily — more heavily probably than a lot of teachers today.”


Class of 2009 graduate Haley Lenox recalls her high school experience with Christine Creel was a valuable one. 

“She really instilled her passion for the subject onto her students, and she made learning fun,” said Lenox, who had Christine Creel for Honors World History as a freshman and AP Art History as a sophomore. “She cared a great deal about her students, she helped us prepare for the AP exam, she held review sessions after school; she made learning fun — it didn’t feel like work.”

Specifically, the teacher’s words, “Never peak,” stuck with the alumna — even long after graduation.

“I’ve tried to take [those words] with me everywhere,” said Lenox, who now works as a lawyer in the East Coast. “I’m always learning, I’m always growing, I’m always trying to improve myself and improve the lives of those around me.”

Because of the distance, Lenox said she would not be able to attend Saturday’s memorial service.

Nevertheless, the SH grad said Christine Creel also taught lessons outside of the classroom, often promoting students to get more involved with the community.

“She also encouraged us to take what we were learning in class and apply it in life or to engage with life in a way in which we were engaging with our studies,” Lenox said. “She had something called SECOS, which were serendipitous extra credit opportunities, and so she would find out about things that were happening in the community, … and we would go to these events for extra credit, but I didn’t need the extra credit — it was just fun to do because we were learning how to engage with our community.”

Christine Creel’s daughter, Lacy, said she believed her mother stayed true to her words until death.

“I really feel like she ‘never peaked,’” she said. “She was continually doing things like supporting all the little kids in our neighborhood. Up until the very end, every holiday she would host a party and make cookies and candy and pass it out to all the kids and the neighbors.”

Christine Creel is survived by her three daughters and seven grandchildren.

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Justin Pak
Justin Pak, News Editor
After spending his first year on The Accolade staff as a copy editor, junior Justin Pak returns as the news editor. Through journalism, he aims to strengthen his writing and time management skills. In his free time, Pak enjoys sleeping.
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