For 165 years, The Leitz-Eagan family has helped families in New Orleans care for loved ones after their passing. At age 29, Joe Eagan is now the Funeral Director for three funeral and cemetery facilities in the greater New Orleans area, including Leitz-Eagan Funeral Homes in Metairie and Marrero. In addition, he was recently appointed as General Manager of the newly developed Grace Funeral Home and St. Lazarus of Bethany Memorial Garden in Covington. As Eagan explains, his business is all about building and maintaining strong relationships with families all across the New Orleans area, and now the Northshore.
To say Eagan’s family business has a long history in New Orleans would be an understatement. “I’m the sixth generation to lead the Leitz-Eagan Funeral Businesses, which was started in the Irish Channel in 1854 by my great-great-great grandfather, Ambrose Leitz, a German immigrant,” says Eagan. This distinguishes Leitz-Eagan as one of the oldest operating funeral firms not only in New Orleans, but also across the entire southern United States.
Eagan’s employment in the family business began as a sort of fluke, however. “In the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina, Leitz-Eagan was one of the few funeral homes that wasn’t damaged by floodwaters, and my father needed any help he could find to continue to operate,” says Eagan. “So I began coming in on weekends to help maintain the grounds and change lightbulbs.” Even in his current position as manager for three facilities, Eagan admits that he still changes lightbulbs when needed. It is all part of working in a family business.
For the most part, Eagan’s work involves building relationships with families who are facing incredibly tough and trying times. “I try to connect with families in a very sincere and empathetic way, and assist them in making decisions to share their loved one’s story in a unique and meaningful way,” says Eagan. He stresses the importance of listening and finding creative ways to reflect the personality and life of the person who is being honored. This empathy and concern for the families has earned him some longtime clients. “Many times people that I have met over the years will call on me personally to assist them with another family member’s arrangements,” he says. He does encourage people to meet with funeral directors and staff far in advance to get the planning process started, as well as find which funeral provider best suits you.
By all accounts, Eagan is honored to continue the family business. “New Orleans is a unique city with unique people, burial practices, religious traditions, and funeral customs,” he said. “The Leitz-Eagan properties understand this, and the knowledge we’ve gained over six generations allows us to accommodate our communities in a sincere, thoughtful and meaningful way.”
Leitz-Eagan Funeral Homes, 4747 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8440; 5101 Westbank Expressway, Marrero, 341-9421; DignityMemorial.com
Grace Funeral Home & St. Lazarus of Bethany Memorial Garden, 450 Holy Trinity Drive, Covington, (985) 635-4745, DignityMemorial.com