Leading national funeral home business buys Heritage Funeral Homes in the Chattanooga area

photo Local funeral home owner Russell Friberg shows off a small urn at Heritage Funeral Home and Crematory. According to national statistics, less expensive forms of death services, such as cremation, are on the rise.

Carriage Services Inc., the nation's fourth largest publicly traded funeral business, has purchased the longstanding Heritage Funeral Homes and Cremation Services in Chattanooga and Northwest Georgia, an official said today.

Houston-based Carriage has bought both of Heritage's locations, in East Brainerd and Fort Oglethorpe, said Curtis Ottinger of Heritage.

He said the staff will remain. Heritage owner and President Russell Friberg will serve the business on a consulting basis in the future, Ottinger said.

Ottinger said he'll remain with Heritage as managing partner of the East Brainerd site. Friberg's son, Ben, will manage the Fort Oglethorpe location, said Ottinger.

The sales price wasn't announced.

Heritage was started 20 years ago by Friberg and Ross Lane. Carriage Services operates 163 funeral homes in 26 states and 32 cemeteries in 10 states throughout the U.S.

See more in Wednesday's Times Free Press.