Wanda M. McLaughlin
Wanda was born to a farming family in Ponaganset, Rhode Island. She learned to be independent and hard working from a young age. She was drawn to athletics and always available for a pickup baseball game at the local CYO, and was on an AAU team where she threw the shot put.
Wanda’s earliest work experience was as a hostess/waitress at Howard Johnson’s. She went on to hold a number of jobs over the years, including at Fleet Bank where she lent her athletic prowess to the bank baseball team, playing first base and outfield. She was a typist at North Safety.
After marrying the late Walter McLaughlin ’57 in 1987, she worked alongside him at McLaughlin Automotive Stores, working in the front office and managing the inventory. As a team they grew the business and Walter often said that “I would not have been so successful without Wanda.”
Also as a couple they were loyal supporters of La Salle Academy, especially Ram athletics. Their generosity led to the construction of the McLaughlin Athletic Center in 2000 and the McLaughlin Strength and Training Center in 2018. Both of these facilities are hubs of student activity on campus.
Since Walter’s passing in 2021, Wanda has continued to be one of La Salle’s most generous donors and visible supporters. She can be seen at many girls softball, girls soccer, boys baseball and football games. Most recently, Wanda was a generous contributor to the Wanda and Walter McLaughlin Softball Field, which opened with great fanfare this past spring. Wanda threw the first pitch to officially open the field and our Rams varsity softball team went on to make its inaugural season at its new facility a memorable one, winning the 2023 RI State Championship crown.
An animal lover, Wanda is a volunteer and supporter of the local chapter of the ASPCA. She has served as a board member for the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame alongside fellow Hall of Fame inductee Patrick Conley.