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, Lacey and in 2018 to Federal Way. 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
Founders

Funeral Alternatives

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.

Service Center

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.

Multiple Venues

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.

Trent Nielsen
General Manager

Trent started his work in funeral service in 2003, helping out part-time at Funeral Alternatives of Washington in Sumner (Now Curnow Funeral Home). He began by going on first calls, and later started helping families with their pre-arrangements. After Trent graduated with a business management degree, he became a full-time funeral director and has enjoyed helping families through the most difficult of times. Trent speaks fluent Spanish from his two-year church mission in Guatemala. He continues as an active member of his church congregation. Trent and his wife, Amy, have four children and enjoy living in the Tumwater area.



Clair Ferris
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 Ferris
Founder

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.



David McNeil
Location Manager
Funeral Director/Embalmer

David entered his first funeral home in 1983 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has been serving families ever since.  Growing up in the islands taught him firsthand about the many different cultures and traditions of the Pacific Islanders and their unique lifestyles. He has continued to learn about various cultural and religious traditions so he can better customize services to fulfill each family’s wishes.

David studied psychology at the Boise State University and then attended San Francisco College of Mortuary Science.  He has served as a funeral director and an embalmer in and around funeral homes for more than 30 years.

David and his sweetheart/wife, Shawna, have raised seven children, and now have the blessing of eight grandchildren (and growing).   They enjoy serving in their church and serving others. When he can, David loves woodworking and building things. He is also a licensed amateur radio operator and is active in two Washington clubs, the Olympia Amateur Radio Society and the Federal Way Amateur Radio Club. David is also a member of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, as well as a member of the F&AM masonic lodge, Aurora #15 in Anchorage, Alaska. 



Karlene Gaussoin
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.



Mike Furlong
Funeral Director/Intern Embalmer/Pre-Planning Specialist

Mike was born and raised in the Midwest, where he grew up working in his family’s restaurant.  After a five-year tour in the Navy, serving on submarines, he chose to follow his life-long ambition, and attended Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington, to become a funeral director. He finds sharing the honesty and compassion of the families he serves to be the most rewarding career anyone could have. He is currently attending the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service, studying to obtain his embalming license.

Mike and his wife, Kalli, and together they are the proud parents of two children, two dogs and a cat. In his free time, he enjoys camping, hiking, playing golf, and is an avid St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. 



Paul Lovgren
Funeral Director/Embalmer



Travis Hartzell
Funeral Director/Embalmer

Travis has been a funeral director and embalmer since 1991. He cares deeply for the families he serves. He guides them through the whole process from first call to final arrangements and memorialization, offering heartfelt and sound advice as they go through the funeral planning and grieving processes.

Travis graduated from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, and the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service in Dallas, Texas.  He has worked in both large and small funeral homes around the country and has incorporated the best of each into his overall approach to caring for families and their departed loved ones.

Travis is a private pilot, and loves to read and travel.  He and his husband, Jason, have one son.



Carrie Luce
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. 



Jill Lane
Crematory Operator/Funeral Director
Intern Embalmer/Community Outreach

Jill was born in Yakima, Washington, and raised in Littlerock and Tumwater. She graduated from Tumwater High School, and received her general AA and ATA in Paralegal Studies (first graduating class) at South Puget Sound Community College. She worked in the medical field and legal field before she started working for Funeral Alternatives in 2006 as a nighttime removal technician.  In August 2011, she moved into full-time work. Jill received her funeral director license in December 2013, is a certified crematory operator and an embalmer intern.  She graduated from Lake Washington Institute of Technology’s Funeral Service Education program for embalming, and is working towards licensure. She also is Funeral Alternatives’ go-to person for community health fairs.

Jill has been a member of Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce since 2011, and has participated in numerous events and activities since joining, including 5:01Surges, grand openings, forums, and auctions. She has been Chamber Secretary since 2014. She also has been a member of Senior Action Network since 2011, and has served on SAN’s board. She is also a member of Zonta Club of Olympia. She prides herself in her community involvement and loves to volunteer her time to the charitable organizations to which she belongs. 



Jack McIntyre
Pre-Planning Specialist

Jack has been a funeral director for more than 22 years.  He is now focusing his time and energy in funeral pre-planning.  His experiences have shown him how the stress of making important decisions after a loved one’s death can be greatly alleviated by having a plan in place that only needs to be implemented. He wants to help families prepare for the eventuality of death so, when the time comes, they can focus on caring for each other and moving forward through the grieving process.

Jack joined Funeral Alternatives in 2003, shortly after it was founded.  Having faced grief and loss first hand with a dispassionate funeral home, he knew he could do a better job of serving families. He found the philosophy he was looking for at Funeral Alternatives, where each family’s choices are honored and respected.

Jack served in the military during the Vietnam Era, and has traveled extensively throughout the world, observing and learning some customs of other cultures. Married for 49 years, with seven children, 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, Jack is no stranger to commitment and compassion.  He extends these qualities to everyone he assists with their funeral pre-planning.



Chase Leyba
Lead Administrator

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. 



Megan Sanders
Lead Administrator

When Megan was 11 years old, her mother started working at a funeral home and Megan would occasionally tag along.  She grew up around the activities and emotions involved in helping grieving families.  When choosing a professional career, it was only natural that she would expand her accumulated knowledge and select funeral services.  Now, with more than 20 years in the funeral industry, Megan has become an experienced director assistant, bookkeeper, and removal technician. She is efficient and caring, and strives to make every family’s experience during their difficult time of loss go as smoothly as possible. She loves helping families. Megan joined Funeral Alternatives in 2011 and considers her co-workers as a second family.

Megan and her husband, Jason, who has been a removal technician at Funeral Alternatives since 2015, have five children. Megan enjoys family time, gardening, sewing, her fur babies, and Seahawks football. GO HAWKS!



Alicia Noelle
Administrative Assistant/Intern Funeral Director

Alicia is an intern funeral director who started working for Funeral Alternatives in May of 2017 as a removal technician and part-time office assistant.  She was drawn to this industry because her mother has been a funeral director and embalmer since Alicia was very young.  She never envisioned herself in this industry until she had a chance to help her mother take care of her great grandmother’s funeral services in late 2016.  She saw firsthand how helping people in their greatest time of need could be very fulfilling.  Realizing directors can give loved ones the chance to say goodbye on their own terms inspired Alicia to step up and pursue a career in the funeral industry. When she isn't at work, Alicia greatly enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, crafting, and reading.



Barbara Cooke
Memorialization Specialist

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.



Isabelle Scruton
Administrative Assistant



Erica Iversen
Administrative Assistant

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 Sanders
Administrative Assistant

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.



Brigham Bradley
Removal Specialist



CJ Hodges
Removal Specialist

CJ has a background in Fire and Emergency Medical Services.  He joined Funeral Alternatives in 2015 and is head of the removal team.  When the company receives a call that someone has passed away and is ready to be brought into our care, the information is routed to him so he can dispatch removal technicians or take calls himself.  He loves being able to help families undergoing the trauma of a loved one’s death.  His calm nature and professional manner engender confidence in grieving families.


CJ has two sons, a toddler and a teenager, who are his pride and joy, and who keep him busy.



Jason Sanders
Removal Specialist

Jason has been a removal technician at Funeral Alternatives since 2015. He went into the business after meeting his wife and seeing how fulfilling it is helping those who are grieving.  Families appreciate his calm attitude, and respectful care of their loved ones.

Raised in Olympia, Washington, Jason graduated from Tumwater High School and has worked with Costco for more than 15 years. He is married with five children.  He loves hiking, spending time outdoors, watching movies, building/creating things, and especially spending time with his family.



Lonnie Hatman
Removal Specialist

Lonnie was born and raised in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois.  He spent 30 years in law enforcement, most of it in Alaska, working as a 911 dispatcher and retiring as a Chief of Police.  He joined Funeral Alternatives in 2016 as an assistant removal technician.  He appreciates being in a position to help those who are in need through his care and compassion.  Lonnie enjoys reading, the outdoors, riding motorcycles, and spending time with his wife, four children, and four (soon to be five) grandchildren.



Shannon Long
Removal Specialist



Matt Ferris
Staff Photographer

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.