Pennsylvania’s longest-serving legislator has died. State Sen. Michael O'Pake was 70. He died Monday morning at Reading Hospital and Medical Center of complications from heart-bypass surgery, which he underwent on Nov. 22. The Democrat from Berks County, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1968 and to the state Senate four years later. He was the first chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, he helped write the Child Protective Services law that helps victims of child abuse and was a leading advocate of the state's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). He also fought for legislation that created the state Department of Aging and separate offices of aging in every county.
State Senator Jay Costa of Forest Hills says, “Senator Mike O’Pake committed his life to public service and making life better for all the citizens of Pennsylvania and his beloved Berks County. Senator O’Pake was a fighter for those in need. From seniors who needed help in paying for life-saving prescription drugs to children that benefitted from his work in creating the state’s children’s health insurance program, Senator O’Pake was a leader who made a difference.”
PA Governor Ed Rendell spokesperson Gary Tuma says Governor Rendell was, “shocked and saddened by the senator’s death. He was smart enough to understand the most complex issues but he never lost touch with the people of his district. He also tried to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats at a time when partisanship has seemed to overtake Harrisburg. And because of that, especially, his loss will be felt even more deeply.”
Photo from O'Pake's website