Conversations that matter

Conversations that matter

When Dr. Edward and Jane Ryan both passed away, their family felt the pain of loss. Two kind and loving parents, mentors, and guides were out of reach. They also learned that their parents had plans to continue their support of the Duluth community. 

The Ryans had spoken with Mark Danielson, Development Officer at the Community Foundation, and expressed their wishes to leave a legacy. They wanted to help those who needed it most. 

In May, the Ed and Jane Family Fund was established, extending the Ryans’ generosity through the Foundation’s Opportunity Rising grants. This funding supports nonprofit organizations that think in fresh ways about the nature and delivery of service to low-income children, youth, and families. Grants also support innovative and collaborative projects that embrace and empower families and create systemic change. 

The five Ryan children are proud of their parent’s quiet generosity and commitment to helping others. They offer some practical advice for families navigating end of life discussions and shared how important it is to have these hard conversations. 

“Be brave and talk about some of the things that will happen after they die. Ask loved ones to think about what is important to them and how they would like their gifts to be used.” 

They recommend simplifying the giving strategy, communicating clearly and documenting desires in several places, including through conversations with Mark Danielson at the Foundation. They stress the need to document your parents’ wishes, and to name the people and organizations they want as beneficiaries in the appropriate places. It is essential to include this information in both the will and trust documents. 

Also, make sure to share those decisions with family members so they can act upon those wishes with confidence. 

When the time came, having an accessible record of the conversation that Ed and Jane Ryan had with Mark made the process of creating the fund and serving the community so much simpler.