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Our History

Celebrating Lives Past

Our job is this – to help you honor a loved one in a dignified, unique, personalized manner. We are here to comfort and guide you through this difficult time, to help you celebrate a life lived, to share memories with friends and family.

We have been providing funeral services to the Wausau community for more than 50 years, and during that time, we’ve learned that people walk away from each funeral service having learned something new about the person whose life is being celebrated that day. Be it a favorite piece of music, a charitable association indebted to their efforts, or a childhood memory from decades past – in some way, each person at the funeral service grows by sharing and celebrating that person’s journey in life. We are here to help make that happen.

Our History - Continuing the Tradition

Founded more than a century ago, Brainard Funeral Home continues the tradition of the original partners Frank Ritter and Fred Deutsch “to provide a funeral service of simple dignity and comforting attention to detail.” A look at Brainard Funeral Home through the years:

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1884  Partners Frank Ritter and Fred Deutsch found “Ritter & Deutsch,” manufacturing furniture, bar and store fixtures; operating a retail furniture store on Wausau’s Main Street; and developing an undertaking and funeral direction business

1890  Manufacturing business ceases

1909  Business incorporated as Ritter & Deutsch Funeral Directors

1951  Robert Brainard joins the firm

1962  Wausau Chapel on Adams Street was built

1978  Scott Brainard joins his father in business

1982  Open the first crematory in central and northern Wisconsin

1985  Scott Brainard takes an ownership role in the family business

1987  The Holiday Remembrance Program honors families with a Christmas ornament and offers support and spiritual guidance as needed to help cope during the holidays

1996  Robert Brainard retires after 45 years in the business

2005  Weston Everest Chapel opens

2006  Certified Pre-planning Counselor joins the staff to assist families with pre-arranging their funeral service

2007  Always in the forefront of trends in the funeral industry, Brainard Funeral Home is the first funeral home to offer the services of a Bereavement Counselor

Throughout its history, the owners and staff of Brainard Funeral Home have been active in the Wausau area, serving as officers in many civic groups, including the Chamber, Rotary, Lions Club, American Legion, and more. Support for the community is a vital part of doing business. Scott Brainard recalls the words of his father, “You give back to the community in which you live and make a living.”

In 2020, Wausau Area Funeral Care was established as the overarching brand that includes Brainard Funeral Home and Cremation Center, Helke Funeral Home and Cremation Services, and Spruce Street Crematory. While each business retains its individuality, aligning under Wausau Area Funeral Care allows for the seamless sharing of resources and staff and symbolizes the commitment to serve Wausau and the surrounding area in unity. As such, the Brainard family tradition of caring and professional service will continue far into the future.

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