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

Ernest Severino started and owned American Mortuary Services from 1970 - 1980 providing removal and preparation services to local and nationwide funeral homes which handled over 900 service calls a month.In 1980 he also opened Cremation Services Inc., the first crematory not housed in a cemetery.

Ernie and his wife Colette also a funeral director saw the need for alternatives in funeral service  which was restricted to traditions.  In 1991 they started  Alternative Funeral Services, the first low cost funeral service center for cremation and burials for families.

In 2000 Ernie and Colette opened  Severino's  River Woods Funeral Chapels in Des Plaines, Illinois serving Des Plaines and surrounding communities.


Our Valued Staff

Colette M. Severino

Colette M. Severino, Owner/Funeral Director

A 1992 Graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science, Colette has been a funeral director for over 25 years - a founder and partner of Severino's River Woods Funeral Chapels.
Colette was also a partner and founder of the Alternative Funeral Services in 1991 which served families with low cost affordable services.

The Lady Elks of Des Plaines Lodge 1526 and member of Mt. Prospect Moose Lodge 660.
Colette is the proud mother of Gabriel age 18 and Keo age 16.

Keo is an aspiring artist, extremely talented and has sold art work at various exhibitions.
Gabriel is an assistant at the funeral home and presently attending Harper College.

Colette is honored to be a part of a family funeral home serving other families in there time of need.
Her personal compassion and touch, along with her attention to details throughout the funeral process, is a great comfort to families.


William  Conlon

William Conlon, Funeral Director

Bill has served the Chicagoland community for almost 50 years. He is compassionate and dedicated to the families he serves. Bill is always caring and his gentle nature has been a comfort to many families in their time of need.


Gabriel J Severino

Gabriel J Severino, Funeral Director Assistant

Gabriel is the newest addtion to our staff. We are lucky to have him. Gabe is a natural at helping people feel comfortable. Gabe is presently attending Harper College where he will be studying his favorite subjects, History and Philosophy.


Nick Bellair

Nick Bellair, Funeral Director Assistant

Nick is an energetic young man who is very devoted to helping people. His compassion will serve him well as he begins his education and development in the world of funeral service. Nick adds a young energy to our business. His knowledge of the new technologies as well as his ability to identify with the younger people of our community will help us to serve all family members properly.


Ernest A. Severino

Ernest A. Severino

A 1968 graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science, Ernie has been a funeral director for over 45 years.

Ernie started and owned American Mortuary Services from 1970 - 1980 providing removal and preparation services to local and nationwide funeral homes which handled over 900 service calls a month. In 1980 he also opened Cremation Services Inc..

A founder of the original Continental Mortuary Air Shippers (C.M.A.S.), which developed the present day casket air shipping tray and combination casket unit, used for the return of human remains by commercial air craft. C.M.A.S. was called upon each year to handle over 62,000 human remains shipments with agents in 12,000 airports within North America. After the 1968 North Central Airline crash the first crash ever at Chicago O'Hare Airport, Ernie with his former partner Robert Inman set up the first multi suburban disaster plan and team for O'Hare Field and also developed Air Care now known as Inman Worldwide Shipping which handles 18,000 families a year for the return of their loved ones who have died in places spanning the United States, Canada and Europe. This was done by having funeral home agents across the world return the remains of a loved one so the family and home town funeral director did not have to call upon strangers in an out of area death.

His experience in embalming having prepared well over 18,000 remains to date and his vast knowledge and experience of all aspects of funeral service has helped guide thousands of families over the years through the loss of there loved ones.
Having played Minor Professional Hockey as a goalie for 10 years in the Great Lakes Hockey League GLHL ( Formerly the Badger State League). Over the years Ernie devoted his time as a level 3 goalie coach for various Ice hockey travel and House Leagues and is a member of USA Hockey and the Chicago Black Hawks Coaches Club.

His work related memberships include National Funeral Directors Association, Illinois Funeral Directors Association, By invitation to The British Embalmers Institute of England, Board member of the Institute of British Embalmers, Past President of National Association of Mortuary Shippers (N.A.M.S.), Was a past Director of C.M.A.S. United States Search & Rescue Disaster Team, is a past President of the St. Emily's Mens Club, a Fourth degree Knight of Columbus Council 6481, a member of Des Plaines Elks Lodge 1526 and the Mt. Prospect Moose Lodge 660.


Angela Matseyunas

Angela Matseyunas, Funeral Attendant

Angela has been with us over 2 years and is our language specialist who speaks a number of foreign languages, Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Czech. Her personal compassion for families is a real comfort to everyone she touches. She is a real compliment to our staff and everyone here loves working with her. Her skills in make up gives families closure viewing their loved ones with very light makeup.