A passion for life

Arts, Culture & Heritage

Dale Laird’s legacy will pay tribute to her passions.
Dale Laird, during a visit to the Great Wall of China. Photo courtesy of David Laird.

“She was magic, pure and simple.”

That’s how Dale Laird’s nephew Sorel and niece Meagan described her. And it’s fitting for a woman who was vivacious and vibrant, whose beautiful Soprano voice floated across the water and echoed through Lake of the Woods, who had a lifelong passion for learning, who loved dancing and musical theatre, and who would dress up for no other reason than it was Wednesday.

Dale’s sudden passing in 2017 was deeply felt by her family, friends, and Winnipeg’s musical theatre community. Her husband David is honouring her memory and will recognize their shared interests through a planned gift to The Winnipeg Foundation.

“Her passion was singing,” David Laird says. She was involved with choirs throughout the city when the couple met, deciding to take a hiatus from singing to concentrate on her career shortly after their marriage in 1979.

Dale obtained her L.P.N. and R.N., working at the Children’s Hospital and the Health Sciences Centre Department of Psychiatry. During this time, she also earned her B.A. from the University of Winnipeg. She became an Employee Assistance Counsellor and eventually conducted cross-Canada seminars about abuse towards nurses. After obtaining her Master’s in Educational Psychology, she went on to become a school psychologist, and worked in a number of school divisions in Manitoba.

She eventually re-ignited her joy in singing and cultivated her love of Broadway and pop-inspired musical theatre. After participating in a Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Winnipeg production of The Mikado, she created new opportunities to perform.

“She decided, if there aren’t any venues for her to perform [the things she wanted to] then she’ll have to create her own opportunities,” Laird says. “She pulled together a number of her friends who were singers and would put on cabarets.”

She frequently organized shows at the Irish Club, the Universalist Church and in Gimli, preforming as Toora-Loora Lay, the Way-Off Broadway Cabaret Collective or the Lakeside Cabaret Singers. She was also involved with the Shoestring Players.

She loved traveling, cooking, gardening, organizing parties and looking her best.

“As a close friend said, ‘Dale brought energy and enthusiasm to everywhere she was and everything she did. Dale’s talent for singing and her interest and enthusiasm in “dressing the part” made a special occasion out of everything she did and everywhere she went’,” David notes.

“Because the vibrancy of a city is reflected in its arts and cultural activities, bringing joy and meaning to people’s lives.”

David Laird, Winnipeg Foundation donor

Dale passed away in August 2017, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. While the couple had talked about making a Will and supporting their community through an estate gift, they hadn’t finalized plans. David knew Dale wanted to support musical theatre and the Manitoba Conservatory of Music where she had sung in a choir. The Conservatory directed him to The Winnipeg Foundation. He worked with Foundation staff and determined he would include a legacy gift in his estate plans to support the community in three different ways.

The first is through a scholarship – called the Dale Laird Legacy Bursary – that will support youth studying musical theatre with the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts. The second element is through the Dale Laird Legacy Fund, which will support opportunities for disadvantaged children and youth to access the arts.

“Music was such a large part of her life. She felt there are people in the City of Winnipeg that may not have access to programs because they can’t afford enrollment fees.”

The third pillar is through the David and Dale Laird Legacy Fund, which supports the most pressing needs and emerging opportunities in our community. David worked in human resources for the City of Winnipeg for 33 years and believes in building a strong city.

“What’s more important than a vibrant and lively community? I always saw the work that I did at the City of Winnipeg as supporting the community itself… I always did see working in the public sector as supporting the public good.”

This type of fund supports The Foundation’s responsive Community Grants program. “Winnipeg is a great city. It has problems, and The Winnipeg Foundation helps deal with those issues and makes Winnipeg a better place as a result.”

Want to learn more about how easy it is to include a legacy gift in your estate plans? Please contact Jennifer Litchfield at 204-944-9474 ext. 238 or email Jennifer.

This story is featured in the Fall 2019 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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