Our History

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Founded in 1842 as The Notre Dame Undertaking Parlor


1842 - 1905: Exact original location unknown - University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

1905 - 1909: Engineering Hall on Dorr Rd. University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

1909 - 1913: On Notre Dame Avenue at the site of present-day Morris Inn, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

1913 - 1925: As "McGann Funeral Home" at 333 N. Michigan St., South Bend, IN

1925 - 1968: 424 N. Michigan St., South Bend, IN

1968 - 1985: 624 N. Notre Dame Ave., South Bend, IN 

1985 - present: 2313 E. Edison Rd., South Bend, IN 

1992–present: 21275 W. Cleveland Rd., South Bend, IN

2005 - present: McGann Hay 13260 SR 23 at Cherry Rd., Granger, IN. 

Forest G. Hay Locations

1920 - 1997: Forest G. Hay at 1201 S. Michigan St., South Bend, IN

1979 - present: Forest G. Hay (Now McGann Hay) at 435 S. Ironwood Dr., South Bend, IN 


Founded in November 1842 by Father Edward Sorin, CSC and Brother Francis Xavier Bartholomew Crowley, CSC who were part of a small group of French missionaries led by Fr. Sorin, who reached their final destination in northern Indiana and founded the University of Notre Dame. Born Rene Patois in Clermont, France, in 1820, Br. Francis had been a carpenter and mason before entering the Congregation of the Holy Cross at the age of twenty. He was the university’s steward and cabinetmaker and had a hand in designing many of its early buildings. He also became the university’s mortician and coffin maker and was steward of the Community and Cedar Grove Cemeteries. At the request of Fr. Sorin he began selling coffins and graves to the town’s people and Indians to bring money in to that early university. Br. Francis was eventually licensed as a mortician by the State of Indiana. Although Br. Francis died in 1896, the university mortuary and his reputation survived. Br. Francis was followed by two more Holy Cross Brothers both named Lawrence both having become Indiana Licensed Undertakers.

A 1909 photograph of Engineering Hall, which was erected in 1905 and housed the university’s mortuary, reveals a sign for "Brother Francis, Undertaker" on a first-floor window. After the Canon Law of the Catholic Church changed requiring Notre Dame to disconnect itself from any profit-making businesses, the second Br. Lawrence, the University’s Undertaker and the Notre Dame Governing Body at the time (now the Board of Trustees) sold the business to Lewis W. McGann on November 1, 1911. Two years later McGann moved it to 333 N. Michigan St. in South Bend to be on the Trolly Car Line when that looked to be the future of transportation.

Lewis W. McGann  

McGann was born to an Irish immigrant family; his father was a farmer and stockbreeder in Macomb, Illinois. After graduating from Illinois State Normal College, now Western Illinois University (formerly Illinois State Teacher’s College). McGann taught school for three years before apprenticing with James Hainline, Macomb’s leading undertaker. He entered the Hohenschuh Embalming School in Peoria, Illinois, in 1909 and graduated the following year. After working in several eastern cities as an undertaker, including New York City, McGann returned to Illinois and purchased a furniture and undertaking business. He came to Notre Dame as a teacher and all the teachers at that time did something else besides just teach, some helped with the Bookkeeping others helped on the Farm or in the Chemistry Lab young Lew McGann also was called upon to work in the Undertaking Parlor. After he purchased the Notre Dame Undertaking Parlor he McGann ran the business for almost seventy years. He died at the age of ninety-six in 1979.

The Burial of Knute Rockne In 1925 McGann moved the L. W. McGann Undertaking Parlor to 424 North Michigan St. Although, officially separated from Notre Dame, the mortuary continued to provide services for the university community, staff, students and faculty members including: Notre Dame football legends Knute Rockne and George "The Gipper" Gipp. The funeral of Rockne was probably the largest single funeral in South Bend’s and McGann’s history. The Studebaker Company donated twenty-two limousines for the services, and condolences came from all over the world.

Mary Olive (Tovey) McGann Orosz  

Daughter of a English immigrant (Albert Edger Tovey) she was born in Bremen, IN and grew up in the depression on St. Francis St. and later on Eddy St. in South Bend. She met, married and later divorced, L. Jay McGann. As the daughter-in-law of L.W. McGann, “Ollie” as she was known, while raising three boys on her own, continued to work for L.W. and served as Corporate Secretary, Hairdresser and Lady Attendant for over forty years. In 1977 she purchased the company with her youngest son J. Patrick McGann from her father-in-law. Although she was not a licensed Funeral Director her influence on the business is still greatly felt today. 

Lewis A. McGann  

Lew was the oldest of L. W. McGann’s grandsons. He graduated from the Indiana College of Mortuary Science in 1967. He immediately began to work with his grandfather L.W. McGann who later that year moved the funeral home from downtown South Bend and no parking back to a remodeled building with plenty of parking at 624 N. Notre Dame Ave., just a few blocks south of where he started on campus. From 1968 into the early 1980s the business also ran the largest ambulance service in St. Joseph County. Through the leadership of Lewis A. McGann, McGann Ambulance Division became the FIRST private licensed provider of Paramedic Advance Life Support in the State of Indiana. Their license number was 1. Through his forward thinking, intellect and hard work he coordinated the massive effort by both local South Bend hospitals, the South Bend Fire Department, Ivy Tech, IUSB and McGann’s, to bring this life saving service to the greater Michiana area. Lew saw a need in home healthcare and began the McGann Medical Supply Company while continuing to run the Ambulance Service and the Funeral Home. 

Eventually, the companies were split and Lew purchased the medical part of the business and ended up building a new complex for the Medical Supply and Ambulance Service at the Northeast corner of Niles Ave and LaSalle Ave. After a successful run in both and in the light of vast changes within the healthcare industry, Memorial Hospital bought the McGann Medical Supply Company which was the predecessor to what is now Memorial Home Healthcare and the McGann Ambulance Service was merged into another service in the region. Lewis A. McGann went on to serve three terms as President of the City of South Bend Common Council.

J. Patrick McGann   

A John Adams High School and Indiana College of Mortuary Science graduate he attended Holy Cross College, IUSB, Ivy Tech and IUPUI. The youngest brother of Lewis A. McGann, Pat began working in the family business in September of 1968 (forty years of service in 2008). Purchasing the funeral company in 1977, along with his mother Mary Olive, from his grandfather L. W. McGann he eventually bought out Mary Olive and all the family minority stock holders including: both brothers Lew and Mike (who is also a Licensed Funeral Director and retired from the South Bend Police Dept.) and his grandmother Viola (Cooper) Holycross McGann. 

In 1986 the company began providing a limousine service for weddings, proms, business, airport trips to Chicago, Notre Dame Football Games, etc. McGann’s Executive Limousine Service continues today as the oldest service of it’s kind in the area. Another business started by Pat is McGann Funeral Supply which manufactures and sells products to the funeral homes all over North America.

After J. Patrick McGann and his mother, Mary Olive McGann Orosz, purchased the funeral business, J. Patrick continued his grandfather’s high standards of service, and moved the business to the 2313 E. Edison Rd. location in 1985 to be on more of a major thoroughfare and a more modern single story structure that was handicap accessible. Still the closest funeral home to Notre Dame Pat says “we are in the shadow of the Golden Dome.”

The family-owned enterprise has continued an unofficial association with Notre Dame and has often been called on to provide services to many alumni, staff, students and faculty over the years. In 1987 outgoing Notre Dame President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh,CSC wanted to put in order some things before he left office, so McGann Funeral Homes was contracted to handle moving the bodies of three priests from the 1800’s entombed in The Crypt in the basement of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to a more prominent place in the Log Chapel since the three were contemporaries of Fr. Sorin. This interesting process was completed in complete privacy until the after it was complete and documented by the University Achieves.

The business has remained in the family with J. Patrick McGann as President, and it continues to grow in ways the Michiana area asks it to, opening Morning Star Funerals in 1992, the first economy funeral home & cremation service in the area, located at 21275 W. Cleveland Rd. (near Portage Ave.) saving families as much as one half of the cost of most other funeral homes in the area. In November of 2005 McGann opened the newly constructed Granger Chapel located at 13260 SR 23 and Cherry Rd., which is the only funeral home in Granger. It is the largest and many from within the funeral industry say is the most beautiful funeral home in the state.

Forest G. Hay Funeral Home   

Forest G. Hay established the Forest G. Hay Funeral Home in 1920, with it's original location at 1201 S. Michigan St. in South Bend. Forest’s son Ralph F. Hay and then grandson Brian G. Hay both succeeded Forest G. Hay, respectively, as President. Forest G. Hay has seved more Michiana area families then any other funeral home. They have been trusted to help thousands of families in their time of need over the years. Forest G. Hay Funeral Home had a full Fleet of Studebaker Funeral Vehicles, and in 1984, the Hay Family donated their horse-drawn Studebaker Hearse to the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend where it can be seen today as part of their permanent collection. Hay also has had a school, Forest G. Hay Elementary School, named after him for his many philanthropic contributions to the City of South Bend and especially the South Side.

Prominent Funeral Homes Merge   

On November 15, 2005, J. Patrick McGann, President of the McGann Funeral Homes and Bonnie (Heck) Hay, President of the Forest G. Hay Funeral Home jointly announced the completion of their merger agreement, prompted by the untimely death of Bonnie’s husband Brian Hay. Pat McGann and Brian Hay are both the third generation of their families to serve the Michiana area as funeral directors. This is a joint venture of two of the oldest heritage names in the funeral business in the South Bend/Mishawaka area. The new McGann Hay firm has more locations then any other funeral firm in the area. They will continue to operate all four of their funeral home locations:

  • The Forest G. Hay Chapel at 435 S. Ironwood at East Jefferson Blvd.
  • McGann University Chapel at 2313 E. Edison at Ironwood
  • Morning Star Funerals & Cremations at 21275 W. Cleveland Rd. near Portage Ave.
  • McGann Hay Granger Chapel at 13260 SR 23 at Cherry Rd (opened in November 2005)

They also operate the American Cremation Society, Executive Limousine Service and McGann Funeral Supply Co.

Mrs. Hay said, “ It will allow us to better utilize our personnel, facilities and motor equipment to better serve our customers at the highest possible level. We will serve all faiths at all of the locations whichever is most convenient for our families.” “This will position us to become a strong service-orientated 21st century funeral and cremation company,” McGann said. He continued, “this will not affect in any way those people who have made prearrangements or done advance planning at any of their locations.” 

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