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History & Staff
At Funeral Alternatives of Washington, we provide personalized service options that allow you to honor your loved ones in a way that is both meaningful and healing. We hope to provide support and caring while delivering memorial services that celebrate life and help families find the peace they deserve.
If you’re seeking a celebration of life in Tumwater, Lacey, Centralia, Federal Way and the surrounding areas, we invite you to learn more about where we came from, our vision, and the dedicated people behind our work.
A History of Caring
Funeral Alternatives was founded in 2002 by second generation funeral director Clair Ferris and his wife, Sharon, with the goal of providing every family in the South Sound area a ceremony that honors their traditions while keeping their best interests in mind. We are dedicated to doing what is best for our families and our community and believe that honest excellence at a fair price is the best way to achieve success and enrich life for everyone. By walking families through the funeral planning process instead of “selling” them, Clair and his team have created a low stress, no pressure experience that puts the family’s needs first.
Funeral Alternatives has expanded from our original location in Tumwater, Washington to Centralia, and Lacey. We also offer a full-service banquet and event center adjacent to the Tumwater location. Named South Sound Manor, it offers the community a unique venue for funeral services, weddings, anniversary parties and other life celebrations.
From traditional mortuary services to special requests, the staff at Funeral Alternatives works hard to incorporate each family's traditions and customs in the funeral service at an affordable price.
Clair & Sharon Ferris
We are dedicated to doing what is best for our families and our community. We believe that honest excellence at a fair price is the best way to achieve success and enrich life for everyone in our community.
Our service center, where we take care of your loved one, includes our own state of the art crematory. Our licensed embalming and refrigeration facilities meet state requirements for any type of services you may want.
Services may be held in one of our facilities or at any one of a number of other local facilities: community centers, churches, public facilities, senior centers, lodges, graveside, or even in private homes.
We Serve All Cemeteries and All Faiths
Services and burial may take place at any cemetery in Western Washington. With special arrangements, we can also travel to Eastern Washington, Idaho, Oregon and northern California
Our Staff’s Dedication to Respectful Care
A funeral or memorial service should provide family members and loved ones with the chance to reflect, remember, and celebrate a life well lived. At Funeral Alternatives of Washington, our goal is to create exceptional services and experiences that fulfill the wishes of your loved one. Our experienced Funeral Directors and support staff provide guidance on the crucial first steps toward healing.
Founder/Lead Pre-Planning Specialist
Clair is a second generation funeral director following in his father’s footsteps. He is a licensed funeral director/embalmer in both Washington and Oregon. He also holds a current insurance agent license to help families with their funeral pre-arrangements. Clair has served on the boards of both the Oregon Funeral Directors Association and the Washington Internment Association. He has extensive background in both cemetery and funeral home operations. Clair held several management positions with the Loewen/Alderwoods Groups (Mills & Mills corporate owners) before starting Funeral Alternatives of Washington. Clair is a member of the Elks Lodge, Tumwater Area and Lacey Chambers of Commerce and was past-President of the Olympia Capital Centennial Rotary Club. He also is a member of the Senior Action Network where he is a part of the SAN Speaker’s Bureau. Clair has spoken to countless organizations and groups on various subjects including, family preparedness, obituary/eulogy writing and religious and ethnic burial customs.
Sharon and her husband Clair opened Funeral Alternatives in November 2002. With a compassionate nature and desire to be of service in her community, Sharon has helped define FA’s philosophy for compassionate, quality service. She emphasizes listening to the questions and concerns of families, and offering them solutions and possibilities, while always keeping their best interests at heart. Sharon is mother to five children, belongs to Senior Action Network, the Tumwater Rotary and both the Tumwater and Lacey Chambers. She also sings and is on the board of directors at the Olympia Choral Society.
Lead Funeral Director/Pre-Planning Specialist
When Karlene took a job at a funeral home in 2001, she never expected it to turn into a passionate profession. In a short time, she realized her work was a way of truly helping people at a time of need. The desire to help alleviate as much stress as possible for grieving families led her to become a funeral director. She is knowledgeable and proficient at guiding families through the labyrinth of decisions and plans that must be made when a death occurs. She respects each family’s wishes and helps to create a positive experience at this most difficult time in their lives. Karlene joined Funeral Alternatives in 2016 and now is a licensed pre-planning specialist as well as funeral director.
A native Washingtonian, Karlene loves reading, travel, and spending time with friends and family, especially her three grown children who are an important part of her life.
Paul began his career in funeral service in upstate New York in 1993. In 1995, he graduated with highest honors from the State University of New York at Canton with a degree in Mortuary Science. After working as a Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer in New York for a number of years, he moved to the Long Beach, California, area where he obtained his Funeral Director’s and Embalming Licenses and practiced in the field for 10 years; he worked with organizations such as the Veterans Administration and AMVETS to help provide services for veterans and volunteered his expertise to help honor and lay to rest indigent veterans in the Los Angeles Area. In 2010, He returned to S.U.N.Y. at Canton to earn his Bachelors of Technology in Funeral Services Administration with High Honor. In 2015, Paul came to Washington State to work as a manager, trainer and subject matter expert for a funeral home and crematory in Puyallup. In 2018, he joined the Funeral Alternatives team to continue serving the families of our area when they experience the loss of a loved one.
His passions include the outdoors, the arts, and helping folks take those first steps following the loss of someone they hold dear. He is dedicated to helping families tell the story of their loved one, of the life they shared, and honoring their memory with attentive and personal service.
“I believe that under different circumstances that I could be the one meeting with a funeral director to make arrangements for one of my family members and I strive to treat folks as I would wish to be treated.”
Intern Funeral Director
Carrie, who started working in the funeral industry in 1980, joined Funeral Alternatives as a funeral director in July 2010. She is proud to be a part of the Funeral Alternatives team, helping to ensure grieving families have the best experience possible during their time of loss. She listens to each family and helps them fulfill the wishes they have for their loved one. She is pleased for the opportunity to serve her community in this way. She also feels she has learned invaluable lessons from her co-workers, mentors, and the families she has helped over the years.
Carrie was born and raised in Olympia, graduated from Olympia High School, and then attended vocational school. She has been active in Eastern Star for almost 40 years, and keeps busy helping care for her mother and her dog Max.
Chase Leyba was born and raised in Idaho, and has grown up in and around the funeral industry his whole life. After high school, he served a two-year mission for his church in Florida and
Alabama, and then joined his family in Anchorage, Alaska. It was then he made the decision to follow in his father’s footsteps, serving people who have lost a loved one. As an assistant to the funeral director, Chase is often the first person at Funeral Alternatives to speak with families. His calm, empathetic, and assuring personality is comforting, and families feel he is treating them like he would his own family. Chase plans to attend college and become a second generation funeral director. He hopes this will allow him to make more of an impact in the lives of the grieving and broken hearted.
Chase is an Active Ambassador for the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce. He loves all sports, especially golf, and is an avid Seahawks fan—GO HAWKS! He enjoys being outside, actively participating in his church, and, most of all, spending time with his family. Chase and his wife, Michelle, have two sons, Beckham and Paxton.
Barbara joined Funeral Alternatives in 2010 to assist with obituary writing and memorial folder design. She brings more than 40 years of experience in journalism, communication, and marketing to her work. She strives to help reduce the stress of those she serves during a very difficult time in their lives by helping them create printed memories they will enjoy rereading for years to come. She appreciates being part of a company that is sensitive to family needs and emotions, treats everyone with respect and empathy, and focuses on doing the right thing. Barbara is active in her church, and loves reading, writing and learning new things.
Erica joined the Funeral Alternatives team in early 2018 as an administrative assistant. She has worked in the clerical field for many years, but it wasn’t until she wrote obituaries at a local newspaper that she realized how fulfilling it was to help people through one of the most difficult times of their lives. In her capacity at Funeral Alternatives, she continues to help grieving families by navigating the governmental process and completing paperwork necessary to obtain death certificates. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading, cooking and, of course, cheering on the Seahawks.
Kylea is carrying on the family tradition of working in the funeral industry. She is the third generation to assist people experiencing the death of a loved one, following in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps.
Kylea was born and raised in Thurston County, Washington, and graduated from Tenino High School in 2015. She joined Funeral Alternatives part-time in 2015 and took on a variety of tasks needed around the office. She is now an assistant bookkeeper, receptionist, and audio/visual specialist. She also is on staff at South Sound Manor Event Center, where she not only assists funeral directors during memorial and funeral services, but provides oversight for weddings, networking events, club gatherings, and church meetings.
Kylea has four siblings and loves singing and dancing.
Matt has been working for Funeral Alternatives since December 2003. He is the third generation of Ferris’ to go into the funeral profession and he’s proud to carry on the legacy of going above and beyond to accommodate the needs of every family served at Funeral Alternatives. Knowing he would be able to help families through possibly the most difficult time in their lives made the decision to go into the “family business” an easy one.