History of Leitz-Eagan Funeral Home
In 1854, Ambrose Leitz, a recent immigrant to New Orleans from Baden-Baden, Germany, opened his cabinet shop two blocks from the Mississippi River. In search of a better life and economic opportunity, he also found a hard life in the humid climate of the city, which brought mosquitoes and, sometimes, yellow fever and death.
At that time, people turned to local cabinet makers when they needed a coffin for family members. With those requests, Mr. Leitz began the business that has become the oldest and largest family-managed funeral home, pre-need and life insurance companies in New Orleans. For six generations, parents from the Leitz family, and later the Eagan family, have taught their sons and daughters the traditions of caring for and meeting the special needs of families in their time of grief.
Mr. Leitz died in 1879, and his widow, Louise, built the family name and business over the next 30 years. In the late 1800s, one of the most important services provided by undertakers was transporting the decedent and their family and friends to the church and cemetery. Widow Leitz, as she was called, had the finest funeral carriages and livery stables in New Orleans. When she died in April 1911, the Daily Picayune reported that she was “one of the best known and most picturesque figures…a woman whose mission in life was to alleviate distress as far as her power lay.”
Fred Leitz, Ambrose and Louise’s son, added embalming and parlor room services to the funeral home. He also moved the funeral home to successively larger facilities within the historic area of the city known as the Irish Channel. But as the nation headed toward the Great Depression, Leitz Funeral Home also fell on hard times. When Fred died, he left his daughter, Agatha, a business that was nearly bankrupt. Her husband, Charles J. Eagan Sr. saw this as a challenge, and he left his successful tire franchise to rebuild the business, which became the Leitz-Eagan Companies.
Mr. and Mrs. Eagan were active in charitable and civic affairs, and all five of their sons served overseas in various branches of the military during World War II. Charles Jr., Ewell and Maurice served in the Navy; Fritz was a medical corpsman; and Lloyd was with the 3rd Infantry Division. After the war, all of them earned college degrees and joined their father to help build the company into a successful business of three funeral homes and three insurance companies.
They also continued their parents’ civic involvement and service. Charles Jr. (C.J.) was Jefferson Parish council chairman for 12 years, and Fritz was a state senator for 20 years. Lloyd served as president of the New Orleans and the Louisiana State Funeral Directors Association, and also as executive secretary of the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. In addition, he was president of the International Order of the Golden Rule. Maurice was active on several national and state insurance industry boards. Ewell retired as a Navy captain after 25 years in the reserves and was active in the Navy League.
After the deaths of the fourth-generation brothers, the fifth and sixth generations of the family have been active in the management and operation of the funeral homes. The flagship funeral home, which was located at Magazine and Phillip, closed in 1992. But Leitz-Eagan’s deep roots in the Irish Channel neighborhood continue through the family’s relationships with the community.
The staff of the Metairie location, located on Veterans Boulevard, has been caring for and serving families of the East Jefferson and New Orleans areas with compassion since 1968, maintaining an unrivaled service reputation of service. In 2001, Leitz-Eagan expanded its Westbank presence by merging with the former Westside Funeral Home in Marrero. In 2014, Leitz-Eagan celebrated its 160th year of service, making it one of the oldest continuously operating funeral homes in the country.
Today, we are proud to be a member of the Dignity Memorial® network of funeral and cremation service providers. Dignity Memorial providers offer exclusive benefits, including National Transferability of Prearranged Services, the Bereavement Travel Program, the 24-Hour Compassion Helpline® and access to an acclaimed grief management library. As North America’s largest provider of funeral and cremation services, the Dignity Memorial brand is your assurance of quality, value, caring service and exceptional customer satisfaction.