The History of O'Riley - Branson Funeral Service & Crematory


Since opening in 1971, O'Riley - Branson Funeral Service & Crematory, (formerly Daniel F. O’Riley Funeral Home) has remained true to the dream of its namesake and has served the community as a family-owned and operated business. Our focus has always been to provide families with exemplary care during one of life’s most difficult seasons.


From a Catholic family in Illinois, Daniel F. O’Riley was raised to understand the importance of faith, family and service, all of which he lived out both in his personal and professional life. He met his wife, Mary Denise, known to family and friends as Denni, in the early 1950s while living in South Bend during an internship at a funeral home. Dan graduated from the Indiana College of Mortuary Science in 1953, before he was drafted. Dan and Denni married in 1954 in Texas, where he was part of the U.S. Army in the Artillery Quartermasters Corps of the First Armored Division at Ft. Hood.


After moving back to Indiana, Dan worked with several local funeral homes and was a professor at the Indiana College of Mortuary Science. During their early years of marriage, Dan and Denni began a family, having three children - Dennis, Diane and James.


Dan dreamed of owning his own funeral home. Two of Dan’s siblings, Dennis and James, also graduated from mortuary college and worked as funeral directors until they were called into seminary. Dennis and James understood Dan’s vision, and together the three brothers designed the plans for Daniel F. O’Riley Funeral Home. Dan and Denni broke ground on the funeral home in 1971 and opened that same year, with Dan as the funeral director and Denni as the office manager.  


Family continued to be a theme over the years, as Shawn Gudat, his daughter Diane’s husband, graduated from Mid America College of Mortuary Science in 1981 and began serving at O’Riley. Sadly, Dan’s wife, Denni, passed away that same year. Other family gladly stepped in to help as the office manager, including Dan’s sister, Mary Ann (Molly) Lassuy, and Shawn’s sister, Karen Settles.


Shawn and Karen spent 25 dedicated years at O’Riley ensuring that Dan’s quality service was maintained. Dan kept a loving, guiding hand on the funeral home in his later years, until he passed away on May 2, 2012, and was laid to rest next to his wife, Denni, at Holy Cross Cemetery. 


After many years of full-time work, Shawn and Diane realized they would enjoy traveling and spending more time with their grandchildren, and began to look for a successor that could carry on the legacy of faith and service which first began with Dan O’Riley in 1971. They contacted Chris and Mary Beth Branson, owners of Carlisle-Branson Funeral Service & Crematory in nearby Mooresville, Indiana.


Sharing the same values and vision for service, the Gudat family knew that the Bransons could enhance the experience at the O’Riley while keeping a family atmosphere. In February of 2017, Chris and Mary Beth purchased the funeral home.


Today, Shawn is still an active funeral director at O’Riley, alongside Chris. Together they have worked to enrich the experience for families served at O’Riley, including adding memorial videos, life panels, and many new options for merchandise and memorial items. The O’Riley facility was enhanced in 2017 to include a new family conference area, selection room, family break room, updated restrooms and refreshing new paint and décor throughout.


The Bransons have served in the funeral industry for more than 25 years. Chris began working at a funeral home at age 17 during summers and holidays, and went on to graduate from Xavier University and Worsham College of Mortuary Science. He was employed at Leppert Mortuary in Indianapolis before purchasing Carlisle & Son Funeral Chapel in 2007.


Chris and Mary Beth have two sons, Benjamin and Buddy, and reside in Mooresville. In their free time, Chris and Mary Beth enjoy volunteering, and have been active in a number of nonprofit organizations including foundations, chambers, service clubs and the Catholic Church. They are members of St. Thomas More Catholic Church, and their sons attend Saints Francis & Clare of Assisi Catholic School in Greenwood.