RALEIGH — Former North Carolina Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin, who was the state’s first lawmaker to give birth while holding office, has died at age 50, her husband announced Wednesday.
Goodwin died Tuesday evening “with her children and me by her side” after being diagnosed with cancer 11 years ago, state Democratic Party Chair Wayne Goodwin said on social media. Melanie Goodwin had breast cancer, party spokesperson Robert Howard said.
“Now free from pain and receiving the comfort and peace she has earned, Melanie’s legacy of public service and fighting valiantly for what she believed in will go on,” Wayne Goodwin wrote in his post.
Melanie Goodwin, an attorney, served in the state House from 2005 through 2010, representing Richmond County and part of Montgomery County. The Democrat focused on advancing election and campaign finance legislation and efforts to ban video poker machines.
In the spring of 2008, she made state history by giving birth to the couple’s second child, Jackson. Then-House Speaker Joe Hackney offered her an additional office that her family decorated as a nursery so she could more easily continue her legislative duties.
“I hope that young women who are concerned about serving in the legislature and having a small child see this as an opportunity and wouldn’t let it stand in their way,” Melanie Goodwin said at the time. “I think we can do both. We can be mothers and public servants at the same time.”
Goodwin later served on the North Carolina Industrial Commission, where she worked as chief deputy commissioner until earlier this summer, her husband said. Wayne Goodwin preceded his wife in the House seat she later won. He is a former state insurance commissioner and is running again for the job this November.
Melanie Goodwin’s career also included representing domestic violence victims in court and working at the North Carolina Council for Women.
“She was an amazing mother, wife, lawyer & legislator who fought for working people,” tweeted Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who ordered flags be lowered to half-staff in her memory.
Survivors also include the couple’s daughter, Madison. A service remembering Melanie Goodwin’s life will be announced soon, Wayne Goodwin said.