Charles Frank Laughner
March 5, 1927 – November 18, 2020
Charles Frank Laughner, of Indianapolis, Indiana passed away peacefully in his home on November 18, 2020. Born on March 5, 1927 to Claude and Flora Laughner, Charles left high school early to work in the family restaurant business, which spanned back to 1888. He subsequently became a pioneer in upscale family/cafeteria style restaurants and had eight Laughner’s Cafeterias in Central Indiana with his brothers, Lloyd and Richard. He was known locally as the “Cafeteria King”. He also owned and operated many beloved Central Indiana restaurants, including Jonathan’s on 96th and Keystone, the Double L Drive-In, Dutch Oven, The Oven, and Steer-In. Buoyed by the success of his restaurant pursuits, Charles became an avid yet discrete investor and developer of Indianapolis area real estate. While he enjoyed the restaurant business and striking a good deal, Charles’ passion was architecture and design. He designed and built nearly all his restaurants and homes, most notably his “house on the hill” off IN-37 and Southport Road, which was nominated to be on the National Register of Historic Places. His restaurants and homes reflected his love of art, often featuring original work from local artists who appreciated his support. Charles married Patricia Hawhee on June 5, 1948. Together they had one son, Charles “Chip” Laughner, Jr. He later remarried Elizabeth Herring-Laughner on December 20, 2005 and had a step-son, Robert Herring, Jr. He is preceded in death by Patricia, his two brothers Richard and Lloyd, his two sisters Janet and Frances, and his son, Chip. Charles is survived by his beloved wife Elizabeth, his step-son Robert Herring, Jr. (Mary), his grandchildren Charles “Chad” Laughner III (Jenny), Stacey Laughner Ramsey (Scott), Logan Laughner, Lydia Herring Young (JT), Michael Herring (Christine), Andrew Herring (Casey), and a whole host of great grandchildren: Tyler Cassé, Madi Laughner, Lily Laughner, Liam Ramsey, Gabriel Young, Grace Young, Ava Young, Samuel Young, Michael Young, Joseph Herring, Jacob Herring, Sloane Herring, and a great-great grandchild, Carter Cassé. A mentor to many employees, family members, and aspiring entrepreneurs, Charles received numerous awards, including being named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Indiana Governor Orr and a Kentucky Colonel. Such distinctions are the highest honor and title bestowed on an individual in both states. Invited to attend several presidential inaugurations, Charles had several other accolades, including an award from the Barbara Bush Literature and Education Program and admission into the U.S. Congressional Record for contributions to Indiana by Senator Richard Luger. Following the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Charles was a mason for 65 years and achieved the status of a 32nd Degree Master Mason with the Masonic-Mystic Tie Lodge in Indianapolis. Charles’ most visible philanthropic efforts focused on the First Lutheran Church in Indianapolis, IN and Community Hospital on Washington Street. He led a seven-figure effort to restore the Church and donated the land for the hospital. Charles loved sharing a good meal, wine, conversation and laughs with his many friends and family. He will be missed by all. Visitation will be from 11:00am – 3:00pm on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, at the Crown Hill Cemetery’s Gothic Chapel. A private memorial service will be held for immediate family due to Covid-19 restrictions. A live stream of the memorial service can be viewed on Crown Hill’s Facebook Page Tuesday at 3:00pm. In lieu of floral arrangements or remembrance gifts, memorials may be given to the Scottish Rite Building Fund, Indiana Parkinson Foundation, and Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association.
11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Crown Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery
Charles Frank Laughner
November 23, 2020
I met Mr Laughner through his son Chip. Mr and Mrs Laughner were the nicest couple I have ever met. Chip would always bring me a sugar cream pie from Dutch Oven for working on his Jeep.
Sorry for your loss and praying for peace and comfort for the family.
November 23, 2020
As a friend of the Herrings , please share our condolences
Greg & Nita Smith
November 21, 2020
I’m the grandson of Al and Hannah Black and I’ve known of Charlie my whole life. My family speaks of him so highly and your family has such a warm place in our hearts. You are all in our prayers.