About Us

Recent Obituaries

History & Staff

We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.

Our History

Since 1924, it has been our great honor to have been able to serve the fine families of Santa Barbara County. Much has changed since we opened our doors, yet the most important things have remained the same. We still see the deep pride in the area, the loving support to those in need and the families living and working together to make our community an enjoyable place to live. The history of Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels is closely woven into the colorful and rich fabric of the area.

On October 23, 1924, Charles T. Holland opened a modest mortuary at 15 E. Sola St. He operated his business until 1935, when Donald B. Welch and Andrew C. Ryce purchased it. The two men operated the business under the new name of "Welch and Ryce" until 1957, when they formed a partnership to include all of their professional employees who had been with them ten years or more.

From its humble beginnings in 1924, the firm has grown steadily in every way. An additional chapel and public rooms were added to the State and Sola location in 1956 and several successive purchases of adjoining land permitted the development of an extensive parking lot and garden areas. In 1964, a second mortuary located at 450 Ward Drive in Goleta Valley was dedicated. Fifteen years later Welch Ryce Associates and the Haider Mortuary merged to become Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels. In 1980 we added a crematorium to the Ward Drive site and today we remain the area's only locally owned and operated funeral chapel and crematorium.

The partners and staff all deeply appreciate the confidence the community has placed in our organization during the past many decades. And we hope to continue serving all faiths for many years to come.


When we sit down with a family, we have just one goal: to create a fitting, memorable and affordable service for their loved one. Together, we explore the wide variety of services and products available, as well as a wealth of creative ideas and suggestions.

Together, we'll design a memorial or funeral service that suits their needs now, and in the future. Families who come to us know that years from now, they will have deep peace-of-mind because in coming to us, they've done their best to honor their loved one.

Our Valued Staff

J. Stephen Gibson

J. Stephen Gibson, Managing Partner

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 1984
Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR889
Licensed Embalmer - Lic. No. EMB7584
Licensed Crematory Manager - Lic. No. CRM290


James Nelson

James Nelson, Partner

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 1987
Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR2202
Master of Divinity 1972


Scott C. Reid

Scott C. Reid, Partner

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 2005
Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR3691


William Sweda

William Sweda, Funeral Director

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 1989
Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR1659
Licensed Embalmer - Lic. No. EMB8113
Licensed Crematory Manager - Lic. No. CRM289


Barton Heiserman

Barton Heiserman, Pre-Need Counselor & Funeral Director

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 1996
Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR2389
Master of Divinity - 1988


Laura Wild

Laura Wild, Funeral Director

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 2005
Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR3005
Licensed Embalmer - Lic. No. EMB9098


Michael Drake

Michael Drake, Funeral Director

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 2006
Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR2710
Licensed Embalmer - Lic. No. EMB9110


Mesalina T. Canas-Calderon

Mesalina T. Canas-Calderon, Funeral Director

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 2017
Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR3217
Licensed Embalmer - Lic. No. EMB9312
"Se Habla Espanol"


Durhyan Strong

Durhyan Strong, Funeral Assistant

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 2011


Anne Marie Elliott

Anne Marie Elliott, Bookkeeper

With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 2006