Bruce W. Buchanan proudly represents a family business that has been serving Indianapolis-area families for four generations. What started as a small partnership has become one of the leading diversified funeral companies in the United States.
In May of 1881 Frank W. Flanner became Indiana’s first licensed embalmer and opened his business in downtown Indianapolis. He had been working at a large funeral establishment, but wanted to strike out on his own. In 1887 Charles J. Buchanan, who was Frank’s sister’s husband, joined his brother-in-law in the business, and the Flanner and Buchanan partnership was formed.
The company continued to grow under the leadership of Paul H. Buchanan, a son of Charles J. Buchanan, and Frank B. Flanner, Frank W. Flanner’s nephew. In 1925, the pair constructed a beautiful new state-of-the-art facility on Fall Creek Parkway at Meridian Street. It became “the” mortuary for north side families. Many funeral homes once lined North Meridian Street, but this location became the leader and served close to 1,000 families annually at its peak. That building was taken out of service in 1994.
Always looking for new ways to better serve the community and professionalize their business, the family pioneered in 1904 by building one of the nation’s earliest crematories. At that time cremation was a progressive movement in the country tied to public health. Frank, Charles, and Paul Sr. were founding members of the nation’s first cremation association – today known as the Cremation Association of North America.
As the city’s population expanded outwards, so did F and B. In 1954, the stately brick funeral center in Broad Ripple was constructed. In 1955 our Zionsville location was established, and a location on North Shadeland Avenue was later added. In the 1970s we purchased the Farley funeral homes on West Morris Street, South Mann Road, and in Speedway on North High School Road.
F and B constructed a beautiful new center in the growing community of Carmel in 1980. Later, F and B built funeral centers on the grounds of both Washington Park East Cemetery and Washington Park North Cemetery and Family Center. The aging Mann Road location was later relocated to a spacious new home on South Kentucky Avenue just south of I-465.
Funeral Centers at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens and Hamilton Memorial Park now serve Hamilton County residents. Floral Park was opened in 2008. The Geist event center was opened in 2014 to serve a full range of family celebrations.
The third generation of the business was represented by Paul’s daughter Charlene (Buchanan) Keller and her husband Donald B. Keller who was president of Flanner and Buchanan through the 1960s and 70s. Donald helped to expand the business when the Farley funeral homes on Morris Street and in Speedway were purchased in the 1970s. He led the building of F and B’s Lawrence location around the time that I-465 was built.
Judge Paul H. Buchanan, Jr., who chose a career in law, handled legal affairs for the company. He purchased
the company from the Keller family in 1980 to keep it family owned. The “Judge,” so named because he was on the Indiana Court of Appeals, never worked in the day-to-day operation of the business. Funeral managers J.K. Tremps and Jerrit Clayton orchestrated those chores over the years with distinction until Tony Lloyd, now president, was hired in the 1990s.
Soon after the purchase by his father, Brian K. Buchanan joined the firm. It wasn’t long before he opened our Carmel location as manager. He was on the startup team for the new funeral center at Washington Park East Cemetery in 1990, the city’s first cemetery / funeral combination. He also served as president and chairman of the company for many years. Brian retired from the company in 2014 after 34 years of dedicated service.
Brian’s brother Bruce entered the business in 1987 as a board member. His contribution was to diversify the business through a sister company, Buchanan Group. This company provides management services to other funeral homes and cemeteries. It also has a products division which distributes caskets internationally; and a granite manufacturing company. Bruce also led the modernization of the locations and got the company started in other life celebration events such as weddings.
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