Shawn E. Clark believes that funerals shouldn't break the bank.

"People pay for funerals with their hard-earned dollars, they shouldn't have to use their life savings, too," he says.

With that philosophy, Clark introduced the Shawn E. Clark Funeral Home, 200 East Bertsch St., Lansford. The business opened its doors this week, operating out of a well-known corner property that's served as a funeral home for almost 80 years, starting as Holmes Funeral Home in the 1930s.

Clark comes from a blue-collar background and credits a hard work ethic with fashioning his commitment to keeping funerals affordable.

"My mom is a registered nurse. My dad, a truck and heavy-equipment mechanic. They taught me how to set goals and become successful," he says. "Coming from that background and upbringing, I know how hard families work for what they have. So we offer funerals and cremations that are more affordable."

But lower cost doesn't mean cutting corners. Clark says his homegrown, first generation business is equipped to give customers what they want along with warm, personal service.

In fact, Clark provides a full array of options and services, including preplanned funerals, traditional services from the funeral home or place of worship, and contemporary approaches such as memorial services, and those that celebrate the life of the deceased.

For Clark, it's a matter of operating a funeral business grounded in common sense and compassion, with focus on making the experience as stress-free as possible.

Clark says the business represents the culmination of many years of determination.

"It has always been my dream to own and operate a funeral home," says Clark, 28, a graduate of Hazleton Area High School and Bloomsburg University.

After completing studies at the Simmons Institute of Mortuary Science, Clark completed his internship under funeral director Elmer Ebling, Cressona, where he met his wife-to-be, Melissa. Melissa is Ebling's daughter, and is employed as a math teacher at Lehighton Area High School. She is a graduate of Kutztown University.

Lansford's newest residents, the Clark couple has moved into the upper floors of the brick Tudor-style building, making themselves accessible to local residents.

The funeral home serves not only families of the Lansford area, but the regional community – Nesquehoning, Summit Hill, Coaldale and the Greater Tamaqua Area, says Clark.

In support of the local economy, the funeral home uses caskets manufactured in Schuylkill Haven, a firm employing local people and a product using hardwoods harvested in Pennsylvania.

The business will host an open house shortly after the New Year, says Clark. Local residents are encouraged to look for the announcement and exact date and time in the TIMES NEWS.

"We will welcome the general public, local clergy, and other funeral homes," he says, adding that he and Melissa are excited about meeting their new friends and neighbors in the area.

The Clarks' initial message to local residents is this we're here for you, so don't hesitate to call on us.

"We operate on a 24/7, 365-days a year basis," says Clark. "When you call us, whether it's noon or 3 a.m., you will be speaking with myself or my wife Melissa. We encourage families to come to us with questions, or to call us if you would like a personal tour of our facility."

In the meantime, the couple is getting involved with local churches and in local volunteer initiatives, with Clark taking an interest in Lansford Parks and Recreation.

More information about the Shawn E. Clark Funeral Home is available at (570) 645-2066.