Pete Stark, congressman who reshaped health care, dies at 88

Former California Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark, Jr., an influential Democrat whose legislative work helped reshape America's health care system, has died

Stark's family said he died Friday at his home in Maryland. They did not disclose a cause of death.

He also pushed for a law that requires hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid to treat anyone seeking emergency treatment, regardless of their insurance status.

In an obituary posted online, Stark's family remembered him as a “persistent champion” of foster children and gay people, supporting laws that barred discriminating against LGBTQ people in adoptions, as well as paid family leave.

According to his family, Stark met a young Steve Jobs on a cross-country flight and later worked with him to write a bill providing tax credits to technology companies that donated computers to public schools.

Born in Wisconsin during the Great Depression, Stark later served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force and settled in California after receiving his master of Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley. He took out a loan to start his own bank in the 1960s where he took stances that seemed radical at the time: The bank was the first in the nation to offer free checking accounts and provided free child care and transportation for his largely black workforce.

He ran for Congress in 1972 on an anti-poverty and anti-war platform and unseated Rep. George P. Miller. After serving 20 terms in office, Stark lost a bid for reelection to Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell in 2012 and retired.

Stark is survived by his wife Deborah Roderick Stark, seven children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.