May 22, 1938 - January 6, 2021
Sallie Ruth Creel Quillian, 82, of Coral Gables, FL died peacefully at Doctor’s Hospital on January 6, 2021 after an unexpected illness. Sallie was born in Gadsden, AL to Joe and Nellie Jo Morton Creel. She moved to Miami at the age of 6, where she attended Coral Gables Elementary, Ponce Junior High, and Coral Gables Senior High, graduating in 1956. Sallie attended Duke University for one year and then transferred to Emory University and married her high school sweetheart, Warren W. Quillian II. They were married for 62 years. She completed her undergraduate degree at Emory while Warren finished medical school. During Warren’s residency in pediatrics, Sallie taught high school and began her life as a mother. Their first daughter, Rutledge, was born in Boston; their second, Ruth, in Atlanta while Warren was stationed at Fort Benning. Sallie and Warren returned to South Florida in 1966 and lived just a few miles from her childhood home. In 1967, Sallie and Warren welcomed son, Warren, and in 1970, their third daughter, Frances. Both were born at Doctors Hospital, the same medical center that cared for Sallie in her final days. While Sallie’s youngest children were still in school, she began graduate studies at the University of Miami, completing a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in her late 40s. She began part-time work as a licensed therapist at the First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables, continuing in that position for several decades. She particularly enjoyed counseling couples prior to marriage. Over her life, Sallie took on many roles, excelling at whatever role she served – wife, mother, teacher, PTA President, Junior League member, first mate of the Beare’s Lair, marriage and family therapist, grandmother, and lifelong friend to many. When she signed up for a role, she gave it everything she had. Sallie delighted in her husband, her children and her friends. Her deepest love was for the man she married. While Sallie was a freshman at Duke, Warren drove after class from Atlanta to Durham, only to find that the girls’ dorm was already closed, so all he could do was wave to her through the window. Theirs was a great love story. They remained inseparable. They were best friends, confidantes, bridge partners, boat mates, dance partners, and partners in parenting. Sallie was devoted to her children and wanted them to know just how deeply they were loved by their parents and by God, offering consistent and unwavering support to them throughout her life. She wrote letters to them on their birthdays, on many holidays, and especially when difficult things happened - always emphasizing what she valued most about each of them. When she and Warren traveled, she left each child a letter, just in case. Sallie’s friends were precious to her. She gathered annually with her Omega group (a high school service organization) and learned to Zoom with them through the pandemic. Sallie was a lifelong, loyal friend to many. Sallie was fascinated by the lives of everyone she cared about. She peppered her family and friends with dozens of questions to learn more about how they were doing and what they were up to. She enjoyed pulling up a chair to listen. She created a home where all people were welcome, and she drew them in by taking an interest in the things that mattered to them. Sallie was loving, authentic and fair-minded. She valued justice and doing the right thing. She pushed for change and stood her ground with love. She defended marriage equality, discussed ethics often, led values clarification groups for teens, and set a strong example by her actions. She was grateful for the privileges she enjoyed and keenly aware of them. In 1971, when desegregation was struggling for a foothold in the Dade County Public Schools, Sallie and her family embraced the ideal of an equal educational system. She and several mothers started an After School House at Carver Elementary where children came in the afternoon to play, get help with homework, and enjoy a snack. The program helped instill confidence and stability in the lives of many children. Sallie did not like to be the center of attention. (In fact, she wouldn’t like the attention of this long obituary.) Although she was often quiet, she made her opinions known. It was clear if she disagreed with you, but she always honored your opinions. Sallie could be determined and unwavering. When she believed in something, she fought hard for it. But when making her case, she always tried to do it with love and patience. Sallie was committed to personal and spiritual growth – and she urged others to join her in the search for knowledge and meaning. She valued learning new things and creating opportunities for others to learn as well. When her children were young, she always provided outlets for creativity (e.g., decoupage, candle making, puppets, papier marché). She also helped create a group for women to learn about personal finance and investing, and she treasured music (piano in particular), the theatre, and live sports. But oh, how Sallie loved to read! In the evenings, Sallie was typically in the wing chair in the living room, reading and contemplating something. Two of her favorite authors were Henri Nouwen and Fredrick Beuchner, but she also liked a good mystery. She enjoyed playing games with the family and friends, and gave all of her children a fondness for group games like charades. She had a great sense of humor, an infectious laugh, and a keen appreciation for quick wit. Sallie adored Biscayne Bay, and she spent many weekends at Stiltsville. She cooked for days before taking the family there for a weekend, always including friends of all ages. Her children remember her standing on the upper porch, laughing with her husband and friends while eating Texas Trash and Rice Krispie treats, watching her children and their friends fish, swim, explore the flats, and sunbathe. She loved to bring everyone together to have fun. Sallie appreciated nature, and in particular birds. In the last decade of her life, she took great pleasure in keep squirrels away from her birdseed by greasing the pole from the ground to the feeders. She laughed and laughed when they slid down unhurt before they could reach the food. Sallie’s selflessness extended throughout her life. She and Warren took a condo in Durham, NC when their granddaughter, Emma, was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. They spent every Spring through Fall helping care for Emma, taking her to and from school, doctor’s appointments, and running countless trips to the pharmacy. She and Warren balanced this with visits to their other children and grandchildren, while also returning to Miami frequently to care for Sallie’s own mother, who died two years ago, just shy of 104. Sallie made innumerable trips to East Ridge to visit with her mother and take her a Caramel Frappuccino, one of her mother’s last pleasures. That was Sallie – doing the kind thing, the right thing, the loving thing. Sallie will be missed dearly by all who knew her. She leaves us a legacy of love, laughter, and a spirit of fairness. Although we are not able to have a service during these unusual times, please consider sharing a memory or story on the Tribute Wall. We the family would appreciate knowing more about how Sallie brought light into your life. Sallie is survived by her husband Warren of 62 years, her four children: Rutledge, Ruth (Mark), Warren (Heather), and Frances (Joe); 6 granddaughters (Reese, Kadi, Eliza, Laine, Emma and Drew); and her brother, Joe Morton Creel. The family will hold a private service, releasing her ashes near the mouth of Biscayne Bay. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Rettsyndrome.org or the organization/cause of your choice in honor of Sallie.
Sallie Ruth Creel Quillian, 82, of Coral Gables, FL died peacefully at Doctor’s Hospital on January 6, 2021 after an unexpected illness. Sallie was born in Gadsden, AL to Joe and Nellie Jo Morton Creel. She moved to Miami at the age of... View Obituary & Service Information
Obituary & Service
Sallie Ruth Creel Quillian, 82, of Coral Gables, FL died peacefully...View More
Photos & Videos
Share and view memories of Sallie...View Photos & Videos
Add family, history, photos and more...Visit The Family Tree