Arthur Dorman, a Democrat who served 38 years in the Maryland State House as a delegate and senator before retiring in 2003, died Feb. 17 at his home in Charlottesville. He was 85.

He had congestive heart failure, said his son, Matthew Dorman.

An optometrist by training, Dr. Dorman was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1964. He spent four years as speaker pro tem, the House speaker’s top deputy, before he became a state senator in 1975.

During his quarter-century in the Senate representing parts of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, Dr. Dorman promoted legislation for higher education funding and public safety. He advocated for bills requiring motorcyclists to wear protective head gear and dump truck drivers to cover their loads so dust, rocks or other debris wouldn’t fall from the back and endanger other drivers.

He was centrally involved in designating the University of Maryland at College Park as the flagship campus of the system.

Arthur Dorman, chairman of Prince George’s County delegates, and State Sen. Steny H. Hoyer, chairman of the county senators, confer before the opening session in January, 1971. (Tom Kelley/THE WASHINGTON POST)

In the State House, he was known for his steady work ethic. Former Maryland House speaker Thomas H. Lowe (D-Talbot) once described him as “capable, low-keyed, not controversial.”

In the Senate, Dr. Dorman served as a vice chairman of the Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee.

He lost his seat to Del. John A. Giannetti Jr. in the 2002 Democratic primary. In retirement, Dr. Dorman lived in Charlottesville.

Arthur Dorman was born Oct. 21, 1926, in New York. He served in the Merchant Marine and Army during World War II. He graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1953 and was named the country’s top optometrist by the American Optometric Association in 1968. He ran a private practice in Langley Park before retiring in the 1990s.

His memberships included the Beth Torah Congregation in Hyattsville.

A daughter, Barbara Susan Dorman, died in 1996. She was fatally stabbed by her boyfriend, Gary Charles Moncarz, who was ruled not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

Survivors include Dr. Dorman’s wife of 62 years, the former Betty Jean Twery, of Charlottesville; three children, Pam Dorman of Highland Park, N.J., Jan Dorman of Charlottesville and Matthew Dorman of Potomac; and nine grandchildren.