With a combined 235 years of providing grieving families with services, two longstanding mortuaries in Chehalis and Centralia, Brown Mortuary Service and Sticklin Funeral Chapel have witnessed grief, celebration and the changing ways that communities say goodbye to loved ones.
Since 1895, Sticklin’s service of 125 years at several locations is marked by multiple generations of the Sticklin family. In 1973, the fourth generation, Don and Lois Sticklin, opened a new funeral home where the business is still today. When Don Sticklin passed away in 1975, his father Mortimer came out of retirement and assisted Lois in directing the funeral home.
Brown Mortuary opened in 1909, then named Fissell Funeral. In 1952, Willard and Anne Brown bought the business. The couple also built the current Brown Mortuary Chapel in Morton. Anne ran both locations of Brown Mortuary after Willard’s death in 1986.
Lois Sticklin and Anne Brown were friends as well as competitors. In 1990, they both sold their funeral homes to the same company and that’s how Brown and Sticklin came to be grouped together. In 2009, they started operating under the umbrella of Dignity Memorial.
Today, with accessibility issues at the 110-year-old Brown facility in Chehalis the company is merging into one location at the Sticklin Chapel.
“We want families to know that it’s the same caring, compassionate staff that we had at the other building,” says Michelle Hayes, office manager. “The business has not changed; we’ve just moved to a better location. We are there to help people through the most difficult time in their lives.”
Although many things have changed in the funeral business over the years, some have not. The biggest is the desire to help others. Families who have standing relationships or agreements with Brown will find the same care with Sticklin, with the added benefit of the larger facility’s roomier chapel, reception hall, large parking lot and other amenities.
One thing that hasn’t changed is Brown Mortuary Service in Morton is still operating its chapel. “We will continue to serve the east end as we have before,” says administrative assistant, Julie Carter.
Over the decades, both Brown and Sticklin assisted a lot of the same families through the years. “It’s a very close-knit community with a lot of ties,” says Hayes. “We value our small community. Because of our smaller community, many families walk in and they know you, it’s comforting to them.”
“We have longevity with our staff that helps with the connection,” says Carter. “Many people work here for 20 or 30 years. We live here and know the people in the community. We care about the families, it’s not just a business, in some ways, it is a calling.”
With extensive records from all their facilities, Sticklin can help create everlasting remembrances for families. “We see a lot of instances where we are able to help tie things together,” says Carter. “Grandpa had this and now grandma has passed, and the families want some of the same things – we have that information.”
The staff at Sticklin is here to help families with all the tasks involved when a loved one dies. “We go the extra mile to help in any way we can,” says Hayes. “From help with writing the obituary, all the paperwork and setting things up with the cemetery – we are definitely full service.”
With someone on call at all hours of the day, every day, families have someone they can talk to whenever the need arises. “You always have somebody here you can call – we are reachable 24/7,” says Carter. “I’ve done a pricing call at two o’clock in the morning. We are glad to be accessible and help before, during and after.”
Michelle, Julie and the rest of the compassionate staff at Sticklin not only care for families, but they also offer the highest level of care for the departed. “Your loved one is always in our care,” says Hayes. “We have the highest standards in the industry to make sure every step is done properly.”
That care and compassion were shown last month when Sticklin had the honor of providing the final care for an unclaimed veteran. After a post on Facebook went viral and news stations shared the details of the service, 1,500 people came to show their respect. The Patriot Guard Riders escorted the coach all the way to Tahoma National Cemetery from Centralia. “Nobody knew the gentleman, but they showed up,” says Hayes. “It was amazing! We even had veterans fly from Hawaii to attend.”
The staff creates custom services tailored to each family and can help with prearrangements for those who wish to plan ahead.
“We want everyone to remember this – The business has not changed; we’ve just moved to a better location,” says Hayes. “We are there to help people through the most difficult time in their lives.”
Sticklin Funeral Chapel
1437 S. Gold St.