Former state senator Frederick C. Malkus Jr., a forceful advocate for the Eastern Shore during a legislative career that spanned nearly a half-century, has died. He was 86.

Mr. Malkus, who lived in Cambridge, died Nov. 9 at Dorchester General Hospital. He had been in failing health for several months.

Mr. Malkus, a conservative Democrat, served in the legislature for 46 years -- 12 in the House of Delegates and 34 in the Senate -- before retiring in 1994. Upon his retirement, he was the longest-serving state legislator in the United States.

He represented District 37, the state's largest, which stretches across most of Dorchester, Caroline, Talbot and Wicomico counties.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) said that Mr. Malkus was a spokesman for all of rural Maryland.

"He embodied the finest qualities of a legislator: the ability to persuade, high intellect, integrity, respect for others and working for the general welfare of the citizens," she said in a statement.

Mr. Malkus exercised considerable power during his early years in the Senate when each county had one senator and Baltimore had six.

From his front-row seat in the Senate chamber, he would deliver thunderous diatribes against urban senators -- whom he liked to call "the beltway bullies" -- accusing them of pillaging the Eastern Shore.

"Certainly, Senator Malkus was a legend in his own time," said his successor, Sen. Richard Colburn (R-Dorchester). "It's difficult, if not impossible, to replace a legend."

But Mr. Malkus's influence waned after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all legislative districts had to have an equal number of voters.

The high court's ruling caused a major change in the legislature, taking power away from the rural areas and putting it in the hands of urban and suburban lawmakers.

Mr. Malkus lost his chairmanship of the powerful Senate Judicial Procedure Committee in 1966.

In 1975, he assumed the largely ceremonial post of Senate president pro tempore, presiding over the Senate sessions when the president left the rostrum.

Mr. Malkus, who was born July 1, 1913, in Baltimore, moved to the Eastern Shore at age 3.

He graduated from Western Maryland College in 1934 and received his law degree four years later from the University of Maryland Law School.

During World War II, Mr. Malkus served in the Army and rose to the rank of major. He returned to Maryland and in 1947 won a seat in the House of Delegates.

Mr. Malkus had a passion for trapping and financed his education by trapping muskrats. He showed author James Michener how to trap snapping turtles with a "big crab pot" when the writer lived on the Eastern Shore in the 1970s, doing research for his book, "Chesapeake."

Asked in 1995 for a New Year's resolution, Mr. Malkus said he just planned to keep doing the same things he had always done.

"The only wish I have ever had is to see the new century come in, and I have a chance at that," he said.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Margaret; a son; and two daughters.