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Our Staff

Our staff is comprised of dedicated and licensed professionals with the experience to answer all your questions regarding our services. Please feel free to contact any of our staff members at any time.

Brian Leffler

Brian Leffler

Owner, Licensed Funeral Director & Certified Celebrant

Brian is a graduate of Pottsville Area High School. He studied at Northampton Community College, where he obtained an associate’s degree in Applied Science and Certificate of Mortuary Education. He then served his internship with Heffner Family Service, at Schlitzer Allen Pugh Funeral Home in Pottsville, PA. In 1996 he became a licensed funeral director, working exclusively at this location. In 1997, He began working at the two Kniffen O’Malley locations. Over the next few years, Mr. Leffler first accepted the position of general manager/ funeral director of the Kniffen O’Malley locations and several other locations. In January 2004 the title of Regional Manager, overseeing nine locations. 

He was now in charge of the overall success of Schlitzer Allen Pugh Funeral Home in Pottsville, PA, Vickery Funeral Home in Troy, PA, Kniffen O’Malley Funeral Homes in both Avoca and Wilkes-Barre, PA and Robert’s Funeral Home in Wellsburg, NY. On August 16, 2013 Mr. Leffler proudly announced his acquisition and ownership of these fine businesses. 

Brian and his wife Victoria are blessed with two children, Gage and Sloane. Brian is a member of the Queen of the Apostles Parish, Avoca, Avoca Hose Company #1, and serves as an Assistant Coach for Duryea tee ball and coach pitch leagues. 

The entire Leffler family would like to say how proud they are to be able to continue the legacy of providing the best funeral and cremation services to these locations and the surrounding communities.

Telephone: 1-570-823-7157

Email: 


Rynell Van Luvender

Rynell Van Luvender

Licensed Funeral Director & Certified Celebrant

Rynell has been an associate with us since September 2009 after graduating from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. She is a licensed funeral director and serves families at our Avoca and Wilkes-Barre locations. 

Originally from Waynesboro, PA, she now resides in Plains, PA with her husband Michael Van Luvender and their daughter, Rya. Rynell enjoys hiking, reading and spending time with her family. 

Rynell is also a Certified Celebrant. If you are not a member of a church or if you simply do not wish to have a religious service, she can help you. As a Certified Celebrant, Rynell works with families to create a meaningful tribute that reflects the personality and life-style of the deceased. She received her training and certification from the In-Sight Institute. 

Telephone: 1-570-823-7157

Email: 


Susan Zeske

Susan Zeske

Administrative Manager

Susan has been an associate with us as an Administrative Manager for the funeral homes since she started in 1997. Her smiling face and caring disposition always makes both staff and client families feel at ease the moment they walk through the door.

Telephone: 1-570-823-7157

Email: 


Chris Van Luvender

Chris Van Luvender

Non-Licensed Funeral Attendant

Chris is a native of Avoca, where he resides with his wife of 46 years, the former Diane Vermac. Together they raised 6 children and have been blessed with five grandchildren. Chris is a graduate of St. John’s High School, Pittston. He served in the 402 Military Police Unit in the Wilkes-Barre Army Reserves for 6 years. He was employed by Craft Oil, Avoca, for 40 years, where he was Vice President of Sales and Operations. 

Chris is very involved in the community, having been a member of the Avoca Hose Company #1 since 1965, where he has had the distinguished honor of serving as chief for 35 years. He has also been a PA State Fire Instructor since 1984 and a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of greater Pittston. Chris and Diane also belong to Queen of the Apostles Parish, Avoca. 

He has been associated with Kniffen O’Malley Funeral Home since 2007. 


Nikki Carey

Nikki Carey

Funeral Intern

Nikki has been an associate with us since September 2015, she attended Luzerne County Community College and is a 2020 graduate of The American Academy McAllister Institute of Mortuary Science, Manhattan, NY. 


Born and raised in Warrior-Run Borough, PA, she now resides in Nanticoke, PA with her husband William Carey and sons Sean, and John.


Nikki enjoys spending time with her family, her 3 dogs, and cat. She is a lover of the outdoors, hiking, fishing, gardening and singing.


Kailey Blas

Kailey Blas

Funeral Intern

Kailey has been an associate with us since late 2020 after completing her education. Born and raised in Milford, PA, she pursued her associate’s degree in Funeral Service at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Biology/Mortuary Science from California University of Pennsylvania.

Kailey is a certified celebrant and enjoys spending time with her dogs and family.


Shawn E. Carper

Shawn E. Carper

Preneed Counselor

Shawn E. Carper was born in Roaring Spring, Blair County, PA.  He now resides in Middletown, Dauphin County, PA with his wife, Patricia, 2 daughters, Lillian and Vivian, 2 dogs, Lila and Owie and his cat, Pinwheel.  When he is not working, he enjoys traveling, skiing, hiking and cooking.

Shawn has been involved in  deathcare for 30 years and licensed for 28 years.  But for the last 26 years he has been specializing in helping families throughout Pennsylvania plan their end of life celebrations. He finds that helping families ease the burdens of making tough decisions at the time of  loss to be very rewarding.


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