ROSE NOLEN: Women can't be bystanders in their financial lives

Friday, November 11, 2011 | 5:39 p.m. CST; updated 11:59 a.m. CST, Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whenever I hear stories about women being left out of their family's business affairs, I remember a story.

I always hope it encourages women to get involved in their family's finances. In the end, I think they'll be glad they did.


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I had been working with Oddie for about a month before I met her husband. He was what you would call a one-in-a-million kind of guy.  In fact, he was such an unusual person, I really didn’t know what to make of him at first.

At the time we met, Oddie and I were in the middle of a war. The guys we were scheduled to work with had decided to pretend we didn't exist.

As it turned out, they were upset because we had been hired to work with them, and they didn't want any women on their team.

To try to make peace, the foreman had decided to separate us from the men. But when it came time to put the mail together, the guys balked. At that point, Oddie and I were determined to fight back.

We took turns walking the aisle, reading them their rights and telling them we didn't care if they ever spoke to us.

After about an hour, the foreman decided to break it up. We were not going to leave.

After settling in on the fact that we were indeed there to stay, the men began to open up and make room for us.

About this time, our hours changed, and I met Oddie's husband. The first thing I found out about Harold was that he was the kind of man who believed in doing unto others before they did unto him. 

Any opportunity he had to exercise an option, he took it to the maximum. No one took advantage of Harold and got away with it.

He was a man on a mission. He was determined to get the most out of any situation he encountered.

Harold had promised Oddie that when their children finished college, he was moving her into a new home. She was not to take anything with her. She was to buy everything new.  

That time came, and Harold had a new house built. When it was finished, the family moved in. Out went the old, in came the new.

A short while later, Harold had a heart attack and died.

The first thing, and the last thing, I remember about Harold, is that Oddie always credited him with teaching her how to be a widow.

Apparently Harold had taken out the kind of homeowner's insurance that paid for the house upon his death. So when he died, Oddie was free of debt.

The last I heard of her, she was teaching other women how to get their affairs in order to protect their children. Because she had left school without graduating when she married Harold, she went back to school and earned a degree in business.

I’ll always remember her story.

In the early days of our relationship, Oddie was just as reluctant to get involved with family finances as a lot of women are. She would hold out as long as she could when Harold tried to get her to take care of certain business affairs.

When he became involved in union activities, she had to be forced into participating.

A lot of women are like Oddie. Even though they may be sitting beside their husbands when it comes to sharing the financial load, many still don't want the responsibility of managing the family’s investments.

Yet, sometimes just taking a class or volunteering to head up a community program can be enough to inspire one to walk on the business side.

Look at it this way: Oddie didn't sign up to become a widow. Life happened.

She had no choice. Like Oddie, sometimes, you don't get asked.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at

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