Paula Hawkins

A lifetime spent in service

A lifetime spent in service

After 30 years in the Senate and a half-century of public service to Maryland and the nation, Barbara Mikulski will retire from elected politics next year. She will leave a legacy as one of the state's most admired politicians and among the most influential women ever to serve in Congress.

A social worker, she ran for and won a seat on the Baltimore City Council in 1971, crafting a reputation as a pugnacious but popular leader. After a failed first attempt to defeat Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Mathias in 1974, she was elected to House two years later and then won Mr. Mathias' Senate seat upon his retirement in 1986.

Known as the dean of the Senate's women's caucus, she is the...