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History of Commonwealth

A Pioneer in Funeral Service Education


In 1936, R. Victor Landig opened the Landig College of Mortuary Science in Houston, Texas.  Landig had seen a need in Southeast Texas for a college of mortuary science to train men and women as embalmers and funeral directors.

Landig, truly a pioneer in funeral service education, was able to attract to his faculty some of the leading experts in embalming and restorative art in the country, including A.O. Spriggs, the author of “The Art and Science of Embalming” and “Champion’s Textbook on Restorative Art” (who went on to become the director of research for the Champion Embalming Fluid Co.); and C.F. Callaway, author of  the widely used textbook, “The Art of Funeral Directing” (who later served as director of research for the Undertakers’ Supply Co. in Chicago).

Landig himself wrote the book, “Time Changes Everything,” which became a standard textbook on communication skills for funeral directors.

History of Commonwealth

During this growth period, the Landig College of Mortuary Science became the focal point in the formation of Howard S. Eckel’s new method of restorative art, called “derma surgery,” still used today as the core of the Restorative Art course.

In 1955, the school was renamed the Commonwealth College of Science, reflecting Landig’s plan to move his college to Commonwealth Street in downtown Houston. However, personal health problems stopped Landig’s plans and, in fact, led to him selling his interests in the college to Tex Garton, a popular and respected funeral director in the Houston area. Garton operated the college until 1966, when it was purchased by the Pierce Organization.  Later, a new facility was built, and the college relocated to Barren Springs Drive in north Houston.

In the late 1980s, an extensive feasibility study by a team of the nation’s top funeral service executives, practitioners, and funeral service educators was conducted by R.L. Waltrip, chairman emeritus of the board of regents of the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Services. The goal was to provide the finest contemporary funeral service education, including: a curriculum that emphasized hands-on experience in embalming and restorative art; computer science; and funeral directing and management skills. In 1988, the “Institute of Funeral Service” was chartered as a Texas non-profit 501(C3) corporation and instruction began on Aug. 29, 1988. In 1990, The Institute of Funeral Service acquired the Commonwealth College of Funeral Service and changed its name to the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service.

Over the years, the college has expanded, and now offers the finest in educational facilities and faculty in the United States. Today Commonwealth has a state-of-the-art embalming facility, a restorative art laboratory, merchandise display room, a learning resource center, and newly remodeled classrooms.

Main Campus

Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service
415 Barren Springs Drive
Houston, Texas 77090
Office Telephone: (281) 873-0262
Toll Free: (800) 628-1580
Fax: (281) 873-5232