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Purple Flowers


Blair Overton

Blair A. Overton has been a licensed funeral director since 1992.  Raised in Traer, Iowa, Blair was a 1986 graduate of North Tama High School and continued his education at the University of Iowa, where he graduated with a degree in economics in 1990.

Blair received his education in mortuary sciences at the New England Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon graduation in 1991, he received the Fredrick J. Walker Award for highest academic average and the Founders Award for the most promise of outstanding contribution to funeral service.  While in Boston, Blair worked full time for the J. S. Waterman & Sons Funeral Home.


Returning to Iowa, Blair has served families for almost thirty years. He has owned and operated funeral homes in small towns and the greater Des Moines metroplex, as well as a cremation society and two cemeteries. Blair takes pride in helping families arrange for a fitting celebration of life.


Blair, his wife, Whitney, and sons, Alexander, Tyler, and Ryan, make their home in Johnston, Iowa.

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Sara Bering

Sara was born in Des Moines and lived in Colorado for 15 years before returning to Iowa to be close to family. It was through her father’s death that brought her to Merle Hay Funeral Home. Sara found that she was able to demonstrate her compassion for those she serves while also tending to the daily happenings of a funeral home. Sara & Blair partnered in January 2020 to form Iowa Funeral Planning and look forward to continuing to offer quality services to all families. 

Alex Overton
Family Services

Alexander C. Overton, son of Blair & Whitney, was raised in Johnston, Iowa. He graduated from Johnston High School and then swam at the University of South Carolina for two years. He finished his college career at the University of Iowa, graduating from the Tippie College of Business in 2021.

Alex has joined the firm as a Family Service Advisor and enjoys interacting and helping families. Alex enjoys golfing, hanging out with friends, and online gaming.

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Jason Henderson
Funeral Director

Jason Henderson has been a licensed funeral director since 2007. He was raised in Waukee, Iowa, and graduated from Waukee High School. He attended the mortuary science program at DMACC and graduated in 2006.

Jason lives in West Des Moines with his son, Noah, and is an avid supporter of Liverpool Football Club. In his free time, Jason enjoys playing soccer and attending concerts.

Tracie Hicks
Business Manager

Tracie Hicks has been employed with Iowa Funeral Planning since 1988 and is involved with the day-to-day operations of the funeral homes and cemeteries. She graduated from Dexfield (Redfield) High School in 1983 and then attended the University of Northern Iowa, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration in 1987. Tracie resides in Redfield with her husband Matt. They have one daughter.

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Sylvia Visser
Family Services

Sylvia is a Des Moines native and the newest addition to the Family Service team. She compassionately assists families and individuals with their after-death wishes. Sylvia grew up by Woodland Cemetery and has always had a fascination with its encapsulation of the history of people. She was prompted to work in funeral services after losing her father to cancer and wants to help others in his honor. Sylvia did her schooling at Western Washington University in Washington state and has worn many hats including; waitress, barista, bartender, administrative assistant at Senior Services for South Sound, and music instructor. In her free time, Sylvia enjoys live music, traveling, salsa dancing, and reading at local coffee shops. 

Rachel Almlie

Rachel has been the voice of Merle Hay Funeral Home for more than 11 years.

Music is a passion she shares with family and friends, often attending band gigs in the Des Moines area. Rachel and her husband Wayne enjoy their century-old home in the Drake neighborhood.

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Beth Higgins

Beth is the receptionist for Brooks Funeral Care and the Cremation Society of Iowa. She is a longtime resident of Des Moines, with a small detour in South and North Carolina. Beth graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree and she also took accounting classes from Des Moines Area Community College. Beth is a Member of P.E.O. Her free time is spent with family and friends, and she enjoys gardening, crocheting, reading, and the great outdoors.

Diane Vickroy

Diane Vickroy is Administration at Merle Hay Funeral Home.  She comes to us with over 30 years of experience in the medical field. Diane is inspired daily by her husband and their son, Bryant, and great-nephew Bowen.


In her free time, Diane likes to read, cook, bake, and aqua sizing. Diane’s faith, family, and friends are very important to her.

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Kari Lily
Pre-Planning Advisor

Kari joined Iowa Funeral Planning in the middle of 2021.  She is a pre-planning advisor for our dual locations of The Cremation Society of Iowa and Brooks Funeral Care with nearly five years of experience.  Kari has an enthusiasm for helping families pre-plan their funerals while they are happy, healthy, and able.  Kari feels this should be a natural part of life because it provides you with time to make end-of-life decisions in a calm and rational atmosphere.   She enjoys networking with senior coordinators and educating in a group atmosphere to ensure everyone feels comfortable to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones.  Kari and her husband are empty nesters and enjoy dancing, time with family and remodeling their century old home in the Ingersoll Park district.

Carissa Barker
Funeral Director 

Carissa is originally from Remsen, IA and graduated from Le Mars High School in 2017. From there, she studied at the University of Iowa where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and minor in social work in 2020. She continued her professional education at DMACC, where she received an Associate of Applied Science Degree and a Mortuary Science Degree in 2021. She has been a fully licensed funeral director since 2022.

Carissa aspires to be the light for families during a time of need. She is passionate about providing families guidance and support to make sure their loved one's wishes and the family's wishes are met to the fullest. 

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Tracy Dickerson
Funeral Director

Tracy Dickerson has been a licensed funeral director since 2017. She grew up all over the world as her father was in the Navy. When her dad retired the family moved to Massena Iowa to be closer to her mom’s sister. Tracy graduated from Cumberland Massena High school in 1982.


Becoming a funeral director was always a lifelong dream for Tracy and after the passing of her father she decided to go back to school and make that dream a reality. Tracy lives in Ankeny, Iowa. She has five nephews and a niece that are all the light of her life. Tracy enjoys doing anything outdoors and attending her nephew’s and niece activities.

Hannah Garcia
Funeral Director

Hannah is originally from West Des Moines, IA and graduated from Valley High School in 2010. She attended Drake University and received a Bachelor of Science in biology in 2014. After obtaining her degree in mortuary science at DMACC, she became a fully licensed funeral director in 2021, and has been dedicated to helping families in the community she’s been apart of since 1996.

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Courtney Gaskins

Courtney Gaskins began with us in 2022 while working toward her Master's of Social Work at the University of Iowa.  She is involved with the record keeping for each of our funeral homes and cemeteries. She is a Des Moines native who graduated from North High School and Iowa State University. In her free time, she enjoys time at home with her partner, Keith, their dog, Matilda, and their cat, Daisy. She also enjoys fancy coffee, cheap tacos, and likes to keep busy with a variety of hobbies including roller derby, video games, and pickleball.

Haley Frederick
Funeral Director

Bio coming soon!


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