Burns Kish Funeral Homes & Cremations has been serving Munster, Indiana and Hammond, Indiana area families for over 112 years (since 1908), and is still family owned. The Funeral Homes are now in the capable hands of fourth generation Funeral Director, Brian Burns, who took over the business from his father, Tom Burns, officially in 2017. Brian lives in Munster with his wife Carolina and their three children.
“Mortician” A documentary film about what it’s like to be a funeral director
Tom Burns’ daughter, Tracy Burns, had dreams of working in film since she was young. In this documentary she made in 1983, she follows her father in a depiction of the day-to-day life of a Funeral Director. In the film Tom is assisted by Tracy’s brother, Dan Burns, who had just graduated mortuary school. Also shown are Geoge A. Burns, Tom’s father. Tracy Burns eventually moved to California where she became a producer on the hit TV show, House Hunters.
Munster Funeral Home
George A. Burns opened the Burns-Kish Funeral Home Munster location in 1957 while his son Tom Burns was in the service. At this time Calumet Avenue was a two-lane unpaved road. Brian Burns remembers the construction as a young boy and recalls looking across the street and seeing fields from nearby an intersection that is now the heart of Munster, Indiana.
Hammond Funeral Home
Brian’s great-grandfather James E. Burns bought and renovated this Kaufman family mansion on Hohman Ave. in Hammond in 1926. The Kaufmans owned Kaufman and Wolf store, which became the well-known Goldblatts department store in Hammond, Indiana. The chapel was added on in the 1930s during the depression as a way to help local people find work. It was designed like a church with pews, stain glass and beamed ceilings. The chapel was modernized in the 1950s to have a homier feel and be dividable so two services could be held simultaneously. James and his wife lived in the upstairs apartment from 1926 to 1948. His son George Burns and his wife Fran moved into the funeral home in 1948, and lived there for 50 years.
The Original Burns Funeral Home Location
Brian Burns’ great grandfather, James E. Burns, opened Burns Funeral Home on State Street across from All Saints Church in Hammond, IN in 1908. Members of the Abramson family, who eventually owned a number of local car dealerships, worked to care for and prepare the horses for funeral services. Pictured, James E. Burns and Mr. Krebs, Mr. Burns first business partner.
First Motorized Ambulances in the Region
Burns Funeral home brought the first motorized ambulances to the Region in the early 1920s, at this time funeral homes worked closely with the towns to provide ambulance services. Demand faded in the 1930s, then in the 1950s the City of Hammond asked Burns Kish to re-enter the ambulance business as they couldn’t keep up with demand because of growth in the area. A hearse like the one pictured could be converted to an ambulance in five minutes. The seats came out of the floors, signs were put on the windows, a yellow light was placed on the roof, and the car was equipped with a siren. The Burns family transported hospital and nursing home patients all over the region and even into Chicago. This ambulance-hearse was made by Hesse and Skols. The phone number seen on the side of the ambulance 260 has been maintained by the Burns family since the early 1920s, eventually morphing into the modern 932-0260 that our Hammond funeral home location still uses today.