What: Chamber ‘Business After Hours’
When: Thursday, Aug. 25, from 4 to 6 p.m.
Where: Straub’s Funeral Home, 325 N.E. Third Ave., Camas
Details: The event, free and open to the public, will include appetizers from K’Syrah Bistro.
A funeral home in downtown Camas has provided countless funerals and memorial services for residents of the local communities and surrounding areas. Straub’s Funeral Home is marking its 100th year in business.
Earlier this year, Chris and Wendi Dierickx purchased the business –– which includes Columbia River Cremation –– from Chris’ parents Rudy and Keren Dierickx.
The original owner, Wilmer Swank, operated Swank Funeral Home. He also owned a furniture and hardware store at 330 N.E. Fourth Ave. Caskets were made at the furniture store. Chris’ great-grandfather, Roy Edwards, worked at Swank Funeral Home.
In addition to being a local businessman, Swank’s roles in the community included mayor, city treasurer and school board member. He sold the funeral home to Keith O’Hair, in 1943.
O’Hair subsequently sold it to Ronald Dufrense, who changed the name to Camas Funeral Chapel.
Jacob “Jake” and Margaret Straub purchased the business in 1952 and re-named it Straub’s Funeral Home.
After 27 years, they sold Straub’s to Lyle and Peggy Burnett, who continued operating the funeral home until September 1996. Rudy and Keren Dierickx assumed ownership with Chris serving as acting manager.
Chris said his job now involves “listening to families about their loved one and knowing what they want to do to memorialize their loved one and making that happen for them.”
“You learn the proper things to say and not say,” he added. “Every family is different. Until you sit down with them, you don’t know where they are emotionally. You don’t know their reactions to the arrangements you’re going to have to make.”
Traditional funerals are still available, while “celebration of life” services tend to include photos and the sharing of memories.
“Whatever the family wants, we try to provide that for them,” Chris said.
The chapel at Straub’s Funeral Home includes an overhead projector and screen for slide shows and other tributes, while a keyboard is available in the adjoining music room. A wheelchair-accessible restroom was added near the chapel in the late 1990s.
Urns, caskets and vaults are available to view in the selection room. Headstones are also available to purchase.
The Straubs used to live above the office in a 3,000 square foot house, until their two children were born and the family needed additional space. Chris, Wendi and their children Ashton and Dalton, now live in a house with a yard in Camas.
A one-bedroom apartment is also located above Straub’s Funeral Home.
Chris is a past president of the Camas Lions Club and a former Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce board member. He is a coach with Clark County Youth Football and Camas Junior Baseball. Chris was previously a Pop Warner football coach.
Wendi’s involvement in the community includes membership in the Columbia Gorge Women’s Association. Her multiple roles with that organization have included providing hospitality and publicity. Wendi is also on the annual Mother’s Day Plant Fair committee.
Chris said he and his family enjoy staying active and involved in the community.
He is from White Salmon, while Wendi is from Portland.
“We love living in this area,” he said. “It’s as big a town as I want to live in, and as small a town as she wants to live in.
“We love raising the kids here,” Chris added.