Over 150 years old, Rabenhorst Funeral Home is part of Louisiana’s rich history.
In the 1850s, Caroline Focken Rabenhorst, shown here much later in life, met an adventurous young Prussian immigrant, Charles Ferdinand Rabenhorst. Like Charles, Caroline left her native land for the promise of a better life in a new country. Little did they know, America would soon be torn apart by civil war.
When the Civil War began in 1861, Charles formed his own military company, which was attached to the 21st Louisiana Regiment. He served with distinction as a captain in the Confederate Army.
At the war’s end, Charles, a cabinetmaker by trade, found himself making more caskets than furniture. In 1866, he officially entered the funeral business and set a family precedent of responding to the public need.
The business began at the corner of Church (now Fourth) and Main streets across from what was then St. Joseph Catholic Church. There were several other locations before the present downtown location was selected. In 1932, the original building on what is now Government Street was completed making it the first building in Baton Rouge to be constructed solely as a funeral home.
This represented an important cultural shift in one of the major social areas of southern life. Funeral ceremonies were relocated from one’s residence to a dedicated site. In 1978, a second location – Rabenhorst Funeral Home East – opened at 11000 Florida Boulevard.
Charles and Caroline Rabenhorst had two sons, Oscar F. and Alvin E., who brought the business into the 20th Century. In 1932 the brothers founded Rabenhorst Life Insurance Company, originally called the Mortuary Benefit Association.
Oscar’s oldest son, Harry A. Rabenhorst, was one of the better-known family members to serve as president of the funeral home. Known as “Coach Raby,” he spent 43 years at LSU serving as Assistant Football Coach, Head Basketball Coach, Head Baseball Coach, Assistant Athletic Director and Athletic Director.
That Championship Season
Perhaps his most notable achievement was in 1935, when the LSU Basketball Squad defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers to win their only national championship. Although “unofficial” because the NCAA Tournament did not yet exist, there was still the very competitive American Legion Bowl, from which the victor was regarded as the champion.
Coach Harry Rabenhorst had three other victorious seasons before joining the Navy to fight in WWII. During his 32 years as coach, LSU won three SEC titles and a Sugar Bowl Tournament Championship.
Our family carries on his legacy by passionately supporting Louisiana State University athletics.
In the 1940s, the third generation of Rabenhorsts took over management. Oscar’s youngest son, Alvin E. Rabenhorst ll, served as president.
Another third generation member, Alvin P. Rabenhorst, Sr., son of Alvin E. (Allie) Rabenhorst, joined the family business in 1940. Responsible for financial decisions, he implemented a modern accounting system and eventually served as president of both the funeral home and the life insurance company.
Alvin P. Rabenhorst, Jr., Karen Rabenhorst Kerr, David L. Rabenhorst and G. Scott Rabenhorst are proud to carry on the tradition of offering the highest level of service to the people of Baton Rouge and surrounding areas.
In 2014, Rabenhorst continued their tradition of responding to the growing needs of the community by opening a state of the art, onsite crematory, next door to the downtown Government Street funeral home location.
150 years later, the small business that immigrant Charles Ferdinand Rabenhorst founded in Baton Rouge, is thriving and focused on the future.