BALTIMORE -- Barbara A. O’Malley, the mother of former presidential candidate and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and a longtime staffer for former Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski known around Capitol Hill as “Mrs. O,” has died. She was 93.
O’Malley died last Wednesday at a nursing home in Timonium, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, The Baltimore Sun reported. Martin O’Malley told the newspaper she died from complications of old age.
“I was glad that she didn’t live to see her beloved Capitol stormed, a place she loved so dearly,” he said. “She also wanted to live long enough so that she could vote for Biden and see Trump defeated, and she was able to do that.”
O’Malley, whose maiden name is Barbara Ann Suelzer, was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She followed in the footsteps of her father -- who served as the chair of the Democratic Party in Indiana’s Allen County — with her love for politics, working in a congressional campaign before she was even able to vote.
She eventually went to Washington to work for Edward Kruse, a former congressman from Indiana, but came back home for another job at his law office when he lost his reelection bid in 1950. A few years later, she returned to Washington to serve as the national committeewoman for the Young Democrats.
It's in that position that she met her husband, Thomas Martin O’Malley. The two married in 1954 and settled in Maryland, where she spent 33 years as a stay-at-home mother before joining Mikulski’s staff as a receptionist.
“She was a strong Democrat and was a supporter of more women in politics,” said Mikulski, who retired in 2017 after five terms in office.
During her time at the Capitol, Barbara O’Malley forged relationships with Democrats and Republicans alike. She loved playing poker with staffers and senators, Mikulski said, and soon became a legend for her skills.
“She had a great love of history, and she knew the history of the Capitol,” the former senator said. “She knew every nook and cranny, even the basement, and when school groups came to the Capitol it was Mrs. O who led the tour.”
O’Malley's husband died in 2006. She is survived by three other sons, Patrick, Peter and Paul; two daughters, Bridget Hunter and Eileen Schempp; 15 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass service will be held Thursday morning at a church in Baltimore.