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

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.

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.

Karlene Gaussoin
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.

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.

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.

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.