Dave and Liane Laurion shortly before Dave died from a heart attack. David was 62.
In 2017, Liane Laurion found herself facing the future alone, suddenly without her husband of 40 years who died unexpectedly at home from a heart attack. Like so many women in her situation, she realized that in the life she shared with her husband Dave, she had taken care of certain responsibilities and he had taken care of others.
The family’s financial matters were one of her husband’s responsibilities because Dave, in fact, was a seasoned financial advisor. Without Dave’s knowledge and experience and Liane’s sudden loss and grief, how would she navigate a world of such complexity?
Liane did have a trusted resource, a Certified Financial Planner and colleague of Dave’s, Chris Bentley. Chris and Dave had worked together the previous two years and, by chance, Chris inherited the entire Laurion family as clients following Dave’s death on February 4, 2017.
Another resource for Liane was a Grief Share group. As the months passed, Liane realized she was making better progress managing her finances than many other women in her group, including those who had lost their husbands earlier than Liane.
She mentioned this to Chris in December 2017. Liane told Chris that although she was beginning to feel a renewed sense of hope, other members of her grief group didn’t share her optimism. They were still struggling with their finances and other responsibilities.
Chris offered to meet with Liane’s friends to see if he could help in any way, and Liane obliged. A few weeks later, Chris met a group of six widows during brunch. After several hours, Chris realized there was a very real unmet need – helping new widows in a time of immense despair and vulnerability – and he offered to find them some resources. However, Chris came up empty-handed. It turned out there wasn’t a single nonprofit helping widows through this devastating transition. Chris remembers telling his wife, “If I don’t do something, who will?” Chris turned to prayer and reflection, and realized he was being called to “give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need” (1 Timothy 5:3).
On January 8, 2018, Chris filed Wings for Widows as a 501(c)3 public charity, the first and only organization of its kind in the United States. Liane joined him as the first secretary and together Wings for Widows began to take shape.
In a 2019 interview with the Star Tribune, Chris reiterated the need the organization is meeting by saying, “More than 85 percent of women of all ages responding to a State Farm survey said that being the sole financial decision-maker is the most challenging aspect of being a widow.”
Today, with more than 90 volunteers, Wings for Widows provides financial coaching and education to the newly widowed nationwide. Wings for Widows honors Dave and Liane with every widow served.