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

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 1984Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR889Licensed Embalmer - Lic. No. EMB7584Licensed Crematory Manager - Lic. No. CRM290

  • James Nelson

    James Nelson, Partner

    With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 1987Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR2202Master of Divinity 1972

  • Scott C. Reid

    Scott C. Reid, Partner

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

  • William Sweda

    William Sweda, Funeral Director

    With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 1989Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR1659Licensed Embalmer - Lic. No. EMB8113Licensed Crematory Manager - Lic. No. CRM289

  • Laura Wild

    Laura Wild, Funeral Director

    With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 2005Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR3005Licensed Embalmer - Lic. No. EMB9098

  • Mesalina T. Canas-Calderon

    Mesalina T. Canas-Calderon, Funeral Director

    With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 2017Licensed Funeral Director - Lic. No. FDR3217Licensed 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/Funeral Director

    With Welch-Ryce-Haider Since 2006Licensed Funeral Director - License #FDR3633

  • Cesar Diaz

    Cesar Diaz, Representative