Dr. Anne McLaurin, a former Wake County school board member and wife of longtime Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, died Thursday from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 73.
McLaurin worked for 36 years as a family physician in the Triangle and was often at her husband’s side as he campaigned for local office. Meeker, an attorney, first ran for Raleigh City Council in 1981, a year after they were married. He later served four terms on the council and lost races for mayor in 1989 and 1999 before winning the first of five mayoral terms in 2001.
McLaurin, a Democrat, became a candidate in her own right in 2007, when she ran unopposed for a seat on the school board. She supported using families’ socioeconomic background as a deciding factor in balancing school populations in the county, at a time when the Republican majority on the school board favored abandoning that approach. Her obituary described her as “a voice of reason during years when the majority of the board had lost its way.”
McLaurin won re-election two years later. She decided not to run again in 2011, two months after her husband announced he would not seek what would have been a record sixth term as mayor of Raleigh.
Democrats regained a majority on the school board the year McLaurin left, but the board still wrestles with how to reduce socioeconomic diversity gaps between schools. Based on the percentage of students receiving federally subsidized lunches, Wake schools have become more segregated along racial and economic lines this century.
McLaurin grew up in Cincinnati, where she graduated from medical school, and came to Raleigh in 1978 when she became a family doctor with Wake Health Services. She later started a private practice in Apex and worked as a physician for SAS Institute’s Health Care Center and at Alliance Medical Center. From 1980 to 1990, she also served as chief medical officer for the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women.
McLaurin and Meeker were married at their home in Boylan Heights where they raised two children. According to her obituary, McLaurin was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the fall of 2016 and moved to an assisted-living facility in January 2020.
But two weeks before she died, she came home to Boylan Heights, where she was cared for by her family and visited by friends.