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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jul. 5, 202212:00 AM EST

Northeast Florida's Legacy Leaders: Jody Brandenburg

Northeast Florida leaders share their lessons and their advice for those looking to find success in business and life.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

When looking for the path to success, which way does one turn?

The road has many waypoints.

We talked with five Northeast Florida leaders who have guided their organizations and businesses for decades toward that destination.

They shared their lessons and advice, such as the payoff of listening, the need for self-awareness and the wisdom of changing course.

Here they share their insights into traveling a generational journey for the benefit of those who want to follow in their footsteps.

Jody Brandenburg 

The leader of Hardage-Giddens Funeral Homes says find your passion, have a plan and be flexible.

Jody Brandenburg grew up on his parents’ tomato farm in South Florida, the last house on a road that led into Everglades National Park.

While in high school, he worked at a family member’s pharmacy and began to learn the business.

When Brandenburg graduated from high school, he had saved enough money to cover his first year at the University of Georgia, where he planned to seek a degree in pharmacy.

A summer job at a funeral home changed his course from the drugstore and set him on the path to his career as a funeral director.

Instead of heading north to Georgia, Brandenburg headed west to Texas and graduated from the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service.

Returning to Florida, he became a licensed funeral director and embalmer, then entered the corporate side of the business as the Houston-based Southern region president for Service Corporation International.

In 1977, Brandenburg lived in Jacksonville when SCI oversaw the merger of the Hardage and the Giddens funeral homes.

Since 1990, Brandenburg has led Hardage-Giddens Funeral Homes in Jacksonville.

It comprises eight funeral homes and six cemeteries and memorial parks.

For the past 17 years, Brandenburg has served on the state Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services, its chair since 2009.

Life’s lessons

I’ve learned to have a passion for all my endeavors and to have a plan, but be flexible. Years ago, funeral homes also provided ambulance service because they had hearses. The evolution now is away from the traditional funeral in favor of celebrating a life well lived – telling the deceased’s life story.

Build enduring relationships with your family, friends and the community. I think friends are the lifeblood of happiness.

His advice

When deciding on your career, do your research and engage a mentor. The most important message is to obtain a degree. Many people may never work in their degree field but the degree will open doors for other opportunities.


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