Chris Dierickx knows a little about family business. He’s a fourth generation funeral director, and owner of Straub’s Funeral Homein Downtown Camas.
“So you can say I was born into the business,” he said. “I’ve lived most of my life in a funeral home.”
His family has close ties to Camas.
“My great-grandfather was a barber here before going to work for Mr. Wilmer Swank, the original owner and founder of the funeral home which he (Mr. Swank) started in 1911,” Chris explained. “In 1996, then owner Lyle Burnett was retiring and he contacted my parents to see if they were interested in buying the funeral home. At that time my parents, Rudy & Keren Dierickx, owned and operated Gardner Funeral Home in White Salmon, Washington.”
That’s where Chris was working alongside them. He was engaged to his wife, Wendi, a Portland native, “and my parents thought it would be a good idea for them to buy Straub’s Funeral Home and move me to Camas to manage it for them.”
In a whirlwind, Chris said he and Wendi got married in July and moved to Camas in September of 1996 to take over the funeral home. “I managed the funeral home until buying it from my parents in 2010. This September will mark our 25th year here at Straub’s Funeral Home.”
A quarter of a century of service in Downtown Camas. Chris said it was quite fortunate that Straub’s Funeral Home had such a great reputation for serving the families in the community during their most difficult times. “And because of that trust, we saw no reason to change the name of the funeral home and keep honoring the history of the Straub family.”
He said the only challenge back in 1996 was acclimating to a new town. “We were young and didn’t know anyone. However, it didn’t take us long to get comfortable in our new hometown. I was lucky enough to get invited to weekly coffee with some of the stalwarts of Camas at the time. They were very kind to this young newcomer and made us feel welcome. I’ll never forget that.”
Chris spoke of the importance of being a downtown business in Camas.
“Being in the core of Camas, it’s a great location for us. It allows the families we serve a convenient and familiar place for them to come to during a difficult time in their lives. I still get surprised when someone doesn’t know where we are located. But, when we tell them that we are two blocks from the mill and one block from the Dairy Queen on 3rd Avenue … they know.”
He said their location helps them interact with and enjoy all the other businesses and events that Downtown Camas has to offer. “Over 25 years, we’ve seen the changes of Downtown Camas and have enjoyed watching the success of the businesses that choose to locate here and become part of this great community.”
Chris and Wendi have two children, daughter Ashton and son Dalton, both graduated from Camas High School. The couple will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this July.
“Wendi, while helping me at the funeral home from time to time, has her own career as a mortgage lender with Homebridge Financial and has been active in the community herself,” Chris said.
He’s a 24-year member of the Camas Lions Club and has served as the club’s president twice. Chris has also served on the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce board of directors for three different terms and he served on Camas’ Downtown Vision Coalition and the Design and Infrastructure Committee as well.
“And, I’ve managed to become friends with a few people from Camas/Washougal that I played high school sports against while growing up in White Salmon, which is pretty cool. We like each other a lot more now than we did then!”
Chris said his business has seen serious challenges during this pandemic as there has been a limited number of people that are allowed to gather for funerals or memorial services.
“Families that had experienced a loss weren’t able to gather in the manner that they were accustomed or would have liked to in order to honor their loved one,” he said. “It made a difficult time for them even harder and our job is to help them through it and make it as easy as possible. Following the COVID guidelines made it impossible for many families to have the services they would have preferred.”
While they’ve experienced hardship with COVID guidelines, they’ve continued to offer superb service to the families who’ve needed their service. To learn more about Straub’s Funeral Home, 325 NE 3rd Ave., call Chris at 360-834-4563.