On the morning of Tuesday, October 10, 2017, Gerald Jackson Bridges, aged 90, left his earthly life to reach the arms of his Lord. Gerald was born in Salado on May 9, 1927 to the late Claudie Jack and Elsie Mae (Grigsby) Bridges. He attended Salado schools and graduated from Salado High School in May, 1945. He was a butcher at various grocery stores for over 20 years and retired from civil service on Fort Hood where he worked in Electronics and Calibrations for over 22 years. He married Nelta Leebeth Powell on June 13, 1950, together they had 4 daughters, Mary, Virginia, Melinda and Patricia. Nelta preceded him in death in 1995 and he later married Reida Young on January 30, 2000. He was a member of Elm Grove Baptist Church where he served as a Deacon.
Gerald was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was a constant and steady provider for his family and was always there to support them in any way he could. Gerald was very proud of his John Deere Tractor, it was one that he had as a child and restored. He loved to share his tractor with his friends and community and would often ride it in parades, give hay rides to the school children and mow yards or till gardens. Gerald enjoyed bringing delight to children and he did so for the many years that he worked as a professional Santa Claus for Cherry Hill Productions. He was Santa Claus at Highland Mall in Austin for several years and also did private parties for churches, schools and nursing homes.
Gerald was a 32nd degree Mason and held a dual membership with Salado Lodge #296 and Belton Lodge #116. He was honored to have received the Mason's Golden Trowel award. He was also a Shriner for many years.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Nelta Bridges and his oldest daughter, Mary Bridges and a sister Claudine Postlethwaite.
Those left to cherish his memory and carry on his legacy are his wife, Reida Bridges of Belton; 3 daughters, Virginia Runyan of Belton, Melinda Ciupek and husband Paul of Celebration, FL., and Patricia Simmons of Aberdeen, SD; 4 grandchildren, Lori Bridges, Matthew Simmons, Emily Porter (Justin) and Blake Rudnick (Devin); and 3 great-grandchildren, Laiken and Landon Rudnick and Bryson Porter. He is also survived by a step-son, Jerome Engelke; 4 step-grandchildren, Donnie Eaton, Kacee Engelke, Ashlee Pannell and Mark Engelke; 4 step-great-grandchildren, Hayden Engelke, Addyson Pannell, Callie and Cadie Eaton.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the charity of your choice.
Funeral services for Gerald will be held at 11:00 am on Friday, October 13, 2017 at the Harper-Talasek Funeral Home Chapel in Belton with Pastor Steven Vaughn, Chaplain Bruce Mercer, Byron Mauldin and Pastor Dan Cockrell officiating. Burial with Masonic Rites will follow at North Belton Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5-7 pm on Thursday, October 12, 2017 at the funeral home.
Rest in Peace. I still have memories of Santa Claus in his overalls from when we lived across the street on Fairway. I always enjoyed seeing him in his tractor in later years in the 4th of July Parade. My prayers to all of the family .
Bruce BurnettBryan, TX
So sorry Melinda for the loss of your sweet Daddy and Santa Claus. I know you will miss him, but you will see all of your family someday and that will be a glorious reunion. Prayers for the entire family that God will give you the peace of mind and comfort that you need at this time. We love you all.
Martha and Gary HighfillKilleen, TX
Dear Redia Margaret our prayers are with you and the rest of the family during this time, wish we could be there with you. Love you, Debbie and Winston
Winston and Debbie CaldwellValley Grande, AL
My children and I cannot count all the wonderful times spent with the Bridges family. Papa B or Santa B, whichever you prefer, will always be a very fond memory in our hearts. I'll never forget going to the school to get my kids and seeing him in his overalls mowing the grass, or how he always met my kids with hugs when they went to see Santa (to the envy of all the other kids!) My prayers go out to your family as we all try and deal with a broken heart.
Marsha MillikanTemple, TX
Prayers of peace and comfort during your family's time of loss. Mr. B was a great man. He smiled with his heart and will be greatly missed. Love you Mr. B and until we meet again! Love, The Stefek Family
Tanya StefekTemple, TX
Sending love and prayers to the Bridges family.
Susan CollinsArthur, IL
Prayers for peace and reflections of the many wonderful memories of a wonderful man.
Mark CollierBelton, TX
My only picture sitting on Santa's lap was made at Highland Mall in Austin after I had grown children. He was the best Santa they ever had there, and my children had been to him. Nelta and I were good friends in school, and one year she was staying Austin with him and after visiting with her and learning Santa's identity, I had my picture made on Santa's lap planning to show it to Nelta at our next school reunion. Unfortunately, I never made to to another reunion. Both Nelta and Gerald were such nice people.
Frances Barkley WillessAustin, TX
My thoughts are with you as you grieve the loss of your father. Celebrate a life well lived and your family memories.
Pamela Huff CarrollGreat Falls, MT
Jackie HensleySan Antonio, TX
I love you Daddy...I always will. You were sooooo important to me and how I grew and lived my life. I will always love you Daddy/Pawpaw/Santa B....you have been so instrumental to my life, who I have become and my living my God's example. I will see you, Meemaw and Mary, and all your other daughter's and their/your descendants someday and we will all REJOICE IN THE LORD! I LOVE YOU DADDY SO MUCH!
Patricia Bridges SimmonsAberdeen, SD