SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Former California congressman Fortney 'Pete' Stark has died at the age of 88, according to a statement released by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"Today, America has lost a champion of the people and a leader of great integrity, moral courage and compassion. Congressman Pete Stark was a master legislator who used his gavel to give a voice to the voiceless, and he will be deeply missed by Congress, Californians and all Americans."
Congressman Stark served as a representative of several California districts for more than 40 years.
Most recently he was the representative for the 13th district that included parts of Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro and Albany.
In 2012, Congressman Stark failed to win reelection after being beaten by Representative Eric Swalwell.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement:
"For forty years, Congressman Pete Stark fought for families across the East Bay and the country. He was a passionate and deeply skilled legislator who fought every day against the special interests and for the people.
Congressman Stark dedicated his life to expanding access to quality, affordable health care for all. His tireless work as a leader of the critical Health Subcommittee on the Ways and Means Committee helped safeguard the Affordable Care Act and Medicare from partisan attacks. He made a difference in the lives of millions of people across the country, guaranteeing that everyone had access to health care when they needed it - whether through COBRA or ensuring that hospitals treat people seeking emergency care, regardless of insurance coverage.
I know Congressman Stark will be missed by the people of the East Bay, the entire California Congressional delegation, and people around the country. It was my honor to call Pete a friend and to work alongside him in representing the East Bay.
He will truly be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Deborah, his children, and his entire family today."
Former California congressman Fortney 'Pete' Stark dies at 88