History & Staff

At Shaw & Sons Cremations, Burials, Preplanning, we have provided customizable memorial services for many years. Personalized service options 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 an honorable celebration of life in Yakima 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

Historical records of the Yakima Valley indicate that in 1891 one of the businesses in North Yakima on First and A Streets was that of Cross and Stanton Furniture and Undertakers. However, it was not until 1899 that another firm, North Yakima Furniture Company, provided the foundation for a family funeral business that would span four generations. Shaw & Sons has become the longest continuously operating funeral service firm of the area.

On March 3, 1899, A. E. Howard and A. L. Flint filed articles of incorporation as the Yakima Furniture Company and the business was located at 15 E. Yakima Avenue in North Yakima, Washington. It was common in those early years for a furniture business to get into undertaking, primarily because it had the means for building caskets, and this new company was no exception. The company's letterhead stated: “Furniture– Carpets – Picture Frames – Upholstering – Funeral Directing – Embalming”.

It is not totally clear when A. J. Shaw entered the business, however, after the retirement of A. L. Flint on February 5, 1906, the major trustees became Andrew Jackson (A. J.) Shaw, Herbert A. Shaw, Carl Shaw, and R. N. Shaw. At this time the business was renamed A. J. Shaw and Sons Furniture and Undertaking. In 1908, the firm closed out the furniture department and became a funeral home exclusively and was moved to 217 E. Yakima Avenue. Over the next many decades, four generations of the Shaw family would conduct over 30,000 funeral services for generations of Yakima Valley residents.

In 1910, the stock of A. J. Shaw was transferred to his wife, Alice Shaw, and the trustees then became Alice Shaw, Herbert A. Shaw and Royal N. Shaw. In 1914, the business was again moved to 131 North 2nd Street and new articles of incorporation were filed on March 18, 1920, under the new name of Shaw and Sons Undertakers. The new trustees were Alice Shaw Rice, Herbert A. Shaw, Royal N. Shaw and Lester S. Shaw, the son of A. J. Shaw and Alice Shaw Rice.

In 1923, Shaw and Sons Undertakers built a brand new facility at the present day location of 201 North 2nd Street. By the 1930’s, the firm had become highly successful with succeeding generations of one family operating the business, providing stability of operation and helping establish a “traditional” kind of reception from area residents.

The sons of Herbert A. Stanley and Gilbert Shaw, like the brother combination of their father and uncle before them, operated the business in the 1940’s and into the 1950’s.

In 1942, Lester Shaw’s daughter, Barbara, began working in the firm as the bookkeeper. Chalmer Nance joined the firm as an employee in 1947, he later married Barbara Shaw and together they carried the tradition of the family for many years. A fourth generation of the Shaw family and son of Stanley Shaw, Jack H. Shaw, joined the firm in 1957 and worked as assistant manager for several years.

In 1965, a remodel project and additional land purchase was underway to enlarge the foyer, add garage space, add another apartment and additional parking area was also added. A complete modernization of the entire facility was accomplished.

In 1980, A. J. Dionne joined the firm as an employee until 1981 when he assumed the responsibility of General Manager, working with Chalmer and Barbara Shaw Nance until the death of Chalmer Nance in 1985 and the retirement of Barbara Shaw Nance in 1986.

It was in February 1987, that yet another addition to the facility was underway which resulted in the addition of more garage space, a community room (now named The Bill Greenside Community Room) named after Mr. Bill Greenside who was an employee of the firm for 63 years.

Today, we are proudly affiliated with Foundation Partners Group, a group of independently operated funeral homes throughout North America; Kathy Birdwell serves as the Location Leader and we continue the traditions of quality and compassionate service established by the four generations of the Shaw family.

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 Shaw & Sons, our goal is to create exceptional services and experiences that fulfill the wishes of your loved one. Our experienced Funeral Directors provide guidance on the crucial first steps toward healing.

Kathy Birdwell
General Manager / Licensed Funeral Director

Kathy has been a member of the Shaw & Sons staff for more than 15 years, and has managed the location most of those years. She is a fourth-generation Yakima native; graduated from Davis High School and attended YVCC before transferring to CWU. Her career in funeral service was a second career. Kathy was looking for a change. “I really wanted to do something with my time that would help someone, if only in a small way.” Never having thought of funeral service, a friend in the business offered her a position and she knew immediately it was what she had been looking for. “At the end of the day you know you’ve been able to be of some help to someone.” 

Kathy and her husband, Tom, have been married over 35 years. Spending time with their three daughters and their families is their favorite pastime.



George Norris
Licensed Funeral Director / Licensed Embalmer

George Norris is an experienced Funeral Director/Embalmer, having graduated from San Francisco College of Mortuary Science in 1975. He has lived in and served the families of Central Washington since 2002. Married for forty-two years, George and his wife JoAnn have two children, and three granddaughters.



Karen Thompson
Administrator/Receptionist

“I like to put people at ease” says Karen about her long career at Shaw & Sons. While Karen was visiting with family many years ago, a funeral pre-arrangement counselor came to the home. She immediately felt that she would enjoy assisting folks plan for their final wishes, and supporting them during a difficult time in their lives. For more than 20 years, Karen has been the kind voice answering the phone, and the friendly first greeting for visitors to the funeral home. Karen is a Yakima native and graduated from Davis High School.



Tom Dean
Associate

Tom Dean joined Shaw & Sons Funeral Directors in 2009. Tom is a graduate of A.C. Davis High School and says he "strives to give the best possible service to the family of their loved one, and to treat them with dignity. It is a pleasure to work with Shaw & Sons". Tom has been singing with his church group at nursing homes for the last three years and is a Veteran of the United States Navy after 10 years in service. Although retired after over 30 years in U.S. Postal Service, Tom found that he still had a desire to work and to serve his neighbors in some way.



Benine McDonnell
Ambassador / Bookkeeper

Benine McDonnell joined Shaw & Sons Funeral Directors in 2012. Benine is a graduate of Federal Way Highland High School and earned her BA in Business Administration from Washington State University with an emphasis in Personal & Labor Relations. Benine's grandfather was a Doctor and her father was an Embalmer, during the Depression. Facts of life and death were discussed in her family and not kept in the shadows. Benine states that "when I was growing up people came over to visit, and I was taught to be hospitable. I try to treat every single family we assist as if they were my own!" 

Benine is affiliated with the Yakima County Republicans, Yakima Covenant Church, W.S.U. Alumni and Athletic Foundation, and is a Sigma Kappa Sorority Alumnae and Corporation Board Member. Benine and her husband have lived in Yakima for over 35 years and even co-owned a hardware store in the area. She and her husband raised their two children in Yakima and since her son's death at the age of 21, has become committed to work on preventing suicide and to helping those left behind.



Tonia Buckley
Ambassador

Tonia Buckley joined Shaw & Sons Funeral Directors in 2013. Tonia says, "I enjoy and look forward to going to work. I love being able to help people and to provide comfort during a difficult time". Tonia is a member and the event coordinator of the Lower Naches Grange and she believes family is the most important thing in her life. Tonia has been married to the love of her life for over 35 years and has two children and nine grandchildren.



Tim Funkhouser
Ambassador

Tim Funkhouser joined Shaw & Sons Funeral Directors in 2014. Tim is a graduate of Highland High School and of Yakima Business College. Tim believes that "a time for bereavement and understanding differs from family to family; no one takes loss of a loved one the same". Tim is affiliated with the Wildlife Education Corp. and their annual Elk Feeding Program; National Association of Postmasters United States and is a member of Peace Lutheran Church in Selah. Tim is a disabled Veteran of the United States Air Force and retired from the United States Postal Service as a Postmaster.



Jeff Gruenberg
Pre-Need & After-Care Specialist

As an after-care specialist, Jeff dedicates his time to working with people who have recently had a death in the family. He helps families after the funeral service with follow-up questions, delivering important documents, and taking care of the final details.

Jeff and his family have lived in Yakima since 2003. He and his wife have 5 children.

Jeff has worked with families in helping them document their final plans for several years, and takes pride in being a listening, caring and knowledgeable resource for Shaw & Sons' families.