Meet Our Founder: Chris Bentley, A Visionary in Support of the Widowed Community
At the heart of Wings for Widows lies the vision and dedication of our founder, Chris Bentley. Chris’s journey to establish this organization was sparked by a profound realization during his tenure as a financial advisor. He recognized a widespread and critical gap in support for individuals in the throes of early widowhood—a time when the need for compassionate, professional financial guidance is most acute, yet startlingly underserved.
Chris Bentley, whose career spans roles as a veteran, entrepreneur, retired financial advisor, author, educator, speaker, and unwavering advocate for the widowed, was moved by the
struggles faced by those who had lost a spouse. He observed firsthand the detrimental impact of navigating financial decisions without expert advice during such a vulnerable time. The mistakes made in the wake of loss, often under the cloud of grief and confusion, can have long-lasting repercussions.
Driven by a deep sense of purpose and armed with expertise and empathy, Chris embarked on a mission to change this narrative. In 2017, his vision took flight with the creation of Wings for Widows, a pioneering nonprofit organization dedicated to offering widowed men and women the critical financial coaching and education they sorely need. Chris has since devoted his life to this cause, transforming his insight into action, and in doing so, has built a beacon of hope and empowerment for countless individuals navigating the path of widowhood.
Through Chris Bentley’s leadership, Wings for Widows stands as a testament to what visionary dedication can achieve. His commitment not only addresses the immediate needs of the widowed community but also fosters a broader understanding and appreciation for the unique challenges they face. Chris’s legacy is one of compassion, advocacy, and unwavering support, ensuring that no one has to face the financial aftermath of losing a spouse alone.
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, Liane 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 financial 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.
Dave and Liane Laurion shortly before Dave died from a heart attack. Dave was 62.
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, Susie, “If I don’t do something, who will?” Chris turned to prayer and reflection, and realized he was being given the opportunity 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 Minnesota public charity, the first and only organization of its kind in the United States, then and still today.
Chris Bentley’s profound experiences with widowed individuals highlighted a crucial gap in end-of-life preparedness, exacerbating challenges for the surviving spouse. To address this, he authored The Legacy Planning & Conversation Guide in April 2020, unexpectedly timed with the pandemic, which propelled the book to international bestseller status on Amazon.
The unforeseen shift to a virtual world during the pandemic prompted Chris to adapt Wings for Widows’ operations, recognizing the need for a structured guide for financial coaching sessions. This insight led to the creation of The New Widows’ Guide to Financial Wellness, crafted in just 90 days and launched in August 2020, with a second edition in December 2022. This vital resource, integral to Wings for Widows, serves as an exclusive roadmap for coaches and clients, enhancing the support provided during their journey together.
The Legacy Planning & Conversation Guide remains available on Amazon, offering invaluable insights into preparing for life’s most challenging transitions.
Invite Chris Bentley, a distinguished advocate for the widowed and a seasoned financial expert, to enrich your next media event or podcast. Chris has captivated audiences both large and small, nationwide, with his engaging presentations, delivered virtually and in-person across various platforms. His unique blend of heartfelt compassion for those navigating widowhood and his profound enthusiasm for financial education creates an authentic, dynamic experience for attendees.
Dedicated to making a difference, Chris balances pro bono engagements with paid opportunities, ensuring his message reaches as many as possible. However, with a commitment to quality over quantity, Chris limits his appearances to no more than 10 engagements per year. This selective approach guarantees each event is met with the full extent of his passion and expertise.
To secure Chris Bentley for your event and to bring a transformative perspective to your audience, we encourage you to act promptly. Complete our Media & Speaker Request Form today to reserve a place on his limited schedule. Don’t miss the opportunity to offer your attendees an unforgettable experience with one of the most compelling voices in the field of financial wellness and widow support.