It isn’t just what Lauren Anne Wiley accomplished, but what she could have done.
The 26-year-old was living out her dreams and checking off an ever-expanding bucket list when she died unexpectedly on Dec. 31 from an aortic aneurysm.
“There wasn’t anything that she put her mind to that she didn’t do,” said Mike Wiley, her father. “It’s really hard to imagine what her future would have been, because she had already done so much in 26 years.”
While her life may have been short, she made up for it by filling her days to the brim with people and experiences. More than 700 friends, family members and associates attended Wiley’s funeral earlier this month.
“She was just a magical light. She was absolutely effervescent,” said Susan Evans, founder and chief executive of Evans Larson, the Minneapolis-based public relations firm where Wiley worked.
The Cretin-Derham Hall High School graduate had recently relocated from the Twin Cities to Colorado in order to open Evans Larson’s first Denver office. This was just the latest in a series of adventures that she pursued, said Evans, but not one that she treated lightly.
“She was a leader. She was always poised. Her professional demeanor and competence were something rare in someone so young,” Evans said.
Wiley traveled around the country to work with the firm’s clients, including many multinational corporations. Despite her youth, she could command a room.
“We had clients reach out to us from all over to tell us what they learned from her,” Evans said. “Everyone adored her.”
Her ability to influence others had been evident since she was a child.
Wiley’s curiosity and sense of discovery were contagious, exposing those around her to new opportunities as well. At age 6, she became heavily involved with Irish dancing in St. Paul. Her dad would take her to dance class every week because “it was kind of our father-daughter thing,” he said. This passion of Lauren’s introduced her family to a network of people who would become lifelong friends.
“She is the reason we really got involved in the Irish community,” Wiley said. He is currently vice chairman of the Irish Fair of Minnesota.
While Lauren was a college student at Loyola University in Chicago, she did a summer internship at Evans Larson. “She understood strategy, big picture and details, and understood how to put it all together,” Evans said. “That was extraordinary for a college kid. She was destined for great things.”
And while friends and family members describe Wiley as having a maturity beyond her years, she was still a fun twenty-something who loved her friends, her siblings, her dog, Blue, and music star Beyoncé.
“She was just so wonderful,” Evans said. “So caring, intelligent, adventurous, funny and loyal.”
Days before she died, Wiley and Evans sat down to chart out some big new endeavors that she would be undertaking this year.
“I got to tell her in our last conversation how proud I was of her and how much I loved her,” said Mike Wiley. “I will always be thankful for that.”
In addition to her father, she is survived by her mother, Sue Burns, and stepfather, Ryan Burns; her stepmother, Jane Oslund; a sister, Bridget Wiley; a brother, Cullen Wiley; a stepbrother, Josh Burns; a stepsister, Adrian Burns, and grandparents Dick and Joyce Law and Bud (Guilford) Wiley.
Services were held on Jan. 6.