Hawkins, Paula Fickes (1927—)
Hawkins, Paula Fickes (1927—)
U.S. Republican Senator (January 1, 1981–January 3, 1987). Born Paula Fickes on January 24, 1927, in Salt Lake City, Utah; daughter of Paul B. Fickes (navy chief warrant officer) and Leoan (Staley) Fickes; graduated from high school in Logan, Utah; attended Utah State University; married Walter Eugene Hawkins, on September 5, 1947; children: Ginean Hawkins; Kevin Brent Hawkins; Kelley Ann Hawkins.
The daughter of a navy chief warrant officer, Paula Fickes Hawkins was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1927 and spent her early years living in a variety of locales dictated by her father's postings. She graduated from high school in Logan, Utah, then attended Utah State University, where she later took a job as a secretary. Following her marriage to Walter Hawkins, she moved to Atlanta, then in 1955 relocated again to central Florida.
During the 1960s, Hawkins served as a Republican Party volunteer, organizing the successful House campaign of Edward Gurney in 1966 and serving as a Florida co-chair for Richard Nixon's presidential campaigns in 1968 and 1972. In 1972, she mounted her own successful campaign for public office, winning statewide election to the Florida Public Service Commission. She served two terms with the commission, gaining a reputation as a consumer's-rights advocate and battling rate-hikes of the public utilities. In 1979, she left the commission to become vice president for consumer affairs for Air Florida.
Having sought election as U.S. senator in 1974, and as lieutenant governor in 1976, Hawkins ran for the Senate again in 1980. Failing to win a majority in the primary, she gained the nomination in a runoff, then narrowly defeated William Gunter in the general election. During her Senate tenure, Hawkins served on
the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and the Committee on Labor and Human Resources. She also served on various Congressional committees, including the Joint Economic Committee (97th Congress), the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (98th Congress), and the Special Committee on Aging (99th Congress).
During her second year in the Senate, Hawkins initiated an investigation into the problem of missing children, a cause that would dominate her remaining years in office. One result of the study was the Missing Children's Act of 1982, through which a central information center for missing children was established. Hawkins also sponsored legislation to provide guidelines to prevent abuse in day-care centers and other institutions, drawing attention to the issues by revealing her own abuse as a child.
When the Democrats regained control of the Senate in 1986, Hawkins lost her seat to Florida governor Bob Graham. She then settled in Winter Park, Florida.
Office of the Historian. Women in Congress 1917–1990. Commission of the Bicentenary of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1991.