Laura McCauley Wagner was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She is a proud graduate of Presentation Academy, and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Western Kentucky University, Spalding University and the University of Louisville.
Her professional life began as a high school English teacher. She went on to become a school guidance counselor, and later, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).
At age 46, Laura was “discovered” at an open audition for a Derby fashion show and signed on as a model with Heyman Talent.
Not one to let middle age slow her down, Laura seemingly upended her life shortly after her 50th birthday when she closed her therapy practice to become a funeral director.
That “upending” was actually a dream Laura has shared with her husband of 25 years, Robert, a 5th generation undertaker.
The Wagners are owning partners of Highlands Funeral Home in Louisville, and Laura is the first woman in the Wagner family’s 159 year history in the business to become a licensed funeral director.
She is devoted to funeral service and sees it as her life’s work:
“When people ask me how I can do this work every day, my answer is, ‘how can I not?’
I get to bear witness to the full spectrum of the human experience — the joyful memories and the painful goodbyes. Our funeral home is not a place of death; it’s a reminder of what it means to live.”
Laura makes time to work out with her “family of friends” at a local fitness studio, has volunteered for Friends of Eastern Cemetery, and is honored to support Feed My Neighbor through fundraising and volunteering with her family, work colleagues and friends.
As far as dancing goes, Let’s Dance Louisville! is a childhood dream realized: “I’ve wanted to perform as a dancer since I was a little girl. I thought teaching Zumba was as close as I would get, so I’m over the moon about this.”
Laura lives in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville with her husband and their two children, Grace, 23, and Christopher, 15.