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Former senator partially paralyzed

Published Sep. 29, 2005

Paula Hawkins, the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida, is partially paralyzed on one side as a result of a stroke nine months ago.

Hawkins, 72, has responded well to physical therapy, her friends said.

"She's doing pretty good," said U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, formerly on Hawkins' staff. "She had some impairment and still has some problems, but there are no speech impairments."

Mica told the Miami Herald that Hawkins is having some problems with one side and one arm but otherwise is doing well.

Hawkins became the second woman to win statewide office in 1972 when she was elected to the Public Service Commission. She won re-election in 1976 and was the sole Republican winning statewide elections in the 1970s.

The self-styled "fighting housewife from Maitland" rode her popularity to a U.S. Senate seat in 1980, becoming the only woman elected to that body from Florida.

She was defeated in 1986 by then-Gov. Bob Graham, now Florida's senior senator. She then was a lobbyist for Genetech, a pioneer in genetic engineering.