Paula Hawkins

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Paula Fickes Hawkins
Hawkins, Paula.jpg
United States Senator
from Florida
In office
January 1, 1981 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Richard Stone
Succeeded by Bob Graham
Personal details
Born January 24, 1927
Salt Lake City, Utah
Died December 4, 2009 (aged 82)
Winter Park, Florida
Resting place Palm Cemetery

Winter Park, Florida

Nationality USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Gene Hawkins
Children Genean, Kevin & Kelly Ann
Alma mater Utah State University
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)

Paula Hawkins (January 24, 1927 – December 4, 2009[1]) was an American politician from Florida. She is to date the only woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida. She was the first woman ever elected to a full term in the Senate without a family connection.[2][3]

Early years[edit]

Paula was the eldest of three children born to Paul and Leone Fickes in Salt Lake City. Her father was Naval Chief Warrant Officer. In 1934, the family moved to Atlanta, where her father taught at Georgia Tech. Her parents split when Paula was in high school, and Leone and the children returned to Utah.[4] She finished high school at Richmond, Utah in 1944, then enrolled at Utah State University. Paula was hired to be the Athletic director's secretary and met her future husband. On September 5, 1947, Paula Fickes and Walter Eugene Hawkins were married and moved to Atlanta. Gene earned a degree in electrical engineering and eventually opened his own business. The couple had three children before moving to Winter Park, Florida in 1955, where Paula became a community activist and Republican volunteer.[4][5]

Politics[edit]

She began her electoral career by campaigning as a consumer advocate. She became the first woman elected to statewide office in Florida by winning a seat on the Florida Public Service Commission in 1972. Hawkins was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1974, which was won by Jack Eckerd. She was reelected to the Public Services Commission in 1976. In 1978, she was the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor on the ticket headed by Jack Eckerd. They lost to State Sen. Bob Graham and State Rep. Wayne Mixson. In 1980, she was elected to the United States Senate representing Florida, becoming Florida's first woman elected to the United States Senate and the fifth from the South.[4]

She was the first woman to bring her husband to Washington, D.C. with her. As a result, the Senate Wives' Club became known as the Senate Spouses' Club. She took office two days early because of the resignation of Richard B. Stone and gained an important seniority advantage over the other freshmen senators.

Hawkins was particularly active in the realm of child welfare. She was a key figure in advocating and passing the 1982 Missing Children's Act, and in 1983 chaired the Investigation and Oversight Subcommittee of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, where she launched an investigation of the increase of children reported missing.[4] In 1984 she spoke at the Third National Conference on Sexual Victimization of Children, where she stunned listeners by disclosing that she herself had been the victim of sexual abuse as a child. She subsequently authored, Children at Risk, My Fight Against Child Abuse: A Personal Story and a Public Plea, which was published in 1986.[4]

Senator Hawkins, in 1985, participated in the Record Label Hearings of the Senate's Commerce Committee, where the issue of labeling musical songs was examined, after the PRMC initiative. During the hearings, Hawkins had a notable altercation with testifying musician Frank Zappa, who eventually invited the senator to his home to see first-hand "what kind of toys" his children are playing with.[6]

Post-Washington[edit]

In 1986, Hawkins lost her re-election bid to then-Governor Bob Graham, and returned to Winter Park in early 1987. She was United States representative to the Organization of American States Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) for 7 years before leaving active politics. She remained involved behind the scenes in central Florida and her endorsement was sought by many candidates.[4]

Hawkins was named a director of Philip Crosby Associates in 1988.[7] She joined the board of Nu Skin Enterprises in 1997.[8]

Health[edit]

In a freak accident, a studio partition toppled and struck her in early January, 1982 during an interview at WESH-TV in Winter Park, Florida.[9][10] While not life-threatening, the mishap aggravated a back injury she suffered years before in an automobile collision and caused constant pain which plagued her during her years in Washington. Senator Strom Thurmond, in his capacity as President pro tempore, gave her the use of a room in the Capitol building for a hospital bed where she found pain relief under weighted traction during breaks between congressional activities.[1]

Hawkins' right side was paralyzed in 1998 as the result of a severe stroke.[1] After this, she used a wheelchair. She stayed active, appearing on October 1, 2009 at the opening ceremony of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando at Walt Disney World.[11] She died on December 4, 2009 from complications of a fall she suffered the previous day. She is survived by her husband and three children.[12][13]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1978 Race for Governor/Lt.Governor
    • Bob Graham/Wayne Mixson (D)
    • Jack Eckerd/Paula Hawkins (R)
  • 1980 Race for U.S. Senate
  • 1986 Race for U.S. Senate
    • Bob Graham (D), 57%
    • Paula Hawkins (R) (inc.), 43%

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Pioneering former Sen. Paula Hawkins dies at 82". Associated Press via Orlando Sentinel. 6 December 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "Congressman: Ex-Fla. Sen. Paula Hawkins dies at 82; first Southern woman elected to the Senate". Minnesota: Star Tribune. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Of the female Senators who preceded Hawkins: Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA), Rose McConnell Long (D-LA), Dixie Bibb Graves (D-AL), Vera C. Bushfield (R-SD), Eva Kelly Bowring (R-NE), Elaine S. Edwards (D-LA), Muriel Humphrey (D-MN), Maryon Pittman Allen (D-AL) were all appointed and were never elected; Gladys Pyle (R-SD), Hazel Abel (R-NE), were elected, but not to full terms (i.e., to complete terms where the previous senator had died or resigned, not to new six-year terms); Hattie Caraway (D-AR) and Maurine Brown Neuberger (D-OR) were both elected to full six-year terms. However, their husbands had held the seat previously. Margaret Chase Smith’s (R-ME) husband never served in the Senate, but he did serve in the House. When he died, Margaret won the ensuing election. Of the appointed Senators, Long, Bushfield, Humphrey, and Allen were all appointed to fill out part of the terms of their deceased husbands, while Graves and Edwards were appointed by their husbands, the Governor of their states at the time. Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-KS) was elected to a full term in 1978 without her husband having preceded her, making her the first Senator to have been elected totally independently; however, her father was former Kansas Governor Alf Landon, and so this makes Hawkins the first female Senator elected to a full term without a family connection.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Women in Congress: Paula Fickes Hawkins
  5. ^ Pleasants, Julian: "Samuel Proctor Oral History Program: Paula Hawkins" University of Florida, Dept. of History, November 11, 1997
  6. ^ Transcript of US Senate hearings, Commerce Committee, 19 September 1985
  7. ^ "Former Senator Paula Hawkins is named to board of Philip Crosby Associates", PR Newswire, August 15, 1988.
  8. ^ "Former U.S. Senator From Florida Joins Nu Skin Asia Pacific Board", PR Newswire, March 4, 1997.
  9. ^ "TV Back Drop Falls; Paula Hawkins Hurt" Lakeland Ledger, January 6, 1982
  10. ^ "Senator Hawkins Injured" New York Times, January 6, 1982
  11. ^ Schneider, Mike: "Congressman: Ex-Fla. Sen. Paula Hawkins dies at 82; first Southern woman elected to the Senate" Orlando Sentinel, December 4, 2009
  12. ^ "Florida Sen. Paula Hawkins, billed as the 'housewife from Maitland', dies at 82" Tampa Tribune, December 5, 2009
  13. ^ Kam, Dara: "Paula Hawkins, Florida's first female U.S. senator, dies" Palm Beach Post, December 4, 2009

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Richard Stone
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Florida
1981–1987
Served alongside: Lawton Chiles
Succeeded by
Bob Graham