The Yunker Brothers

Leo E. Yuncker was born in 1874 in Loudonville, Ohio, one of 11 children. He moved to Indianapolis as a boy to work in the former When Clothing store. He worked in several other Indianapolis firms before going into business in 1907 with his brother, James Yuncker, founder of Yuncker Bottling Works, one of several soft drink companies in Indianapolis.

Leo Yuncker joined the bottling works as secretary-treasurer, a post he held until his death on June 19, 1947, at age 73 after a fall at his residence in the Severin Hotel, having moved there following the death of his wife, Mary Koss Yuncker, in 1941. He was a member of the Indianapolis Athletic Club, the Columbia Club, and the Athenaeum.

James S. Yuncker was born in 1879, also in Loudonville, Ohio, and came to Indianapolis at age 15 to work for the Daniel Stewart Drug Co. In 1906, he founded and served as president of the Yuncker Bottling Works, which manufactured and sold assorted flavors of soft drinks, including Ginger Ale, Orange Cider, Lemon Soda, Strawberry Pop, with the most unusual flavor being Yuncker’s Iron Brew.

After obtaining the Coca-Cola franchise for the Indianapolis territory in 1915, over the decades it became one of the most prominent bottlers in the country. He pioneered many advances in the bottling industry and was one of the first bottlers in the country to stress quality control of products. He established his own water wells at the plant and was one of the first to install filters for complete purity of water.

Mr. Yuncker was one of Indianapolis’ best-known businessmen but its least-known philanthropists. For many years, he was a large contributor to various churches, schools, charities, and individuals, but because of his insistence on anonymity, most of his charitable activities were never publicly known. The Yunckers had the firm’s secretaries comb the newspapers looking for families who might be down on their luck due to house fires or other circumstances.

Yuncker was a 50-year member of the Indianapolis Athletic Club, Columbia Club, and the Athenaeum. He died in Methodist Hospital at age 84 and was survived by his wife and eight of his 10 siblings.