Monday, December 27, 2010

The LuLac Edition #1416, Dec. 27th, 2010



An area Democratic party favorite, State Senator Michael O’Pake died today. He was 70. O’Pake was a frequent visitor to annual dinners of the Luzerne County Democratic party in the 70s and 80s. He ran for State Attorney General in 1980 and made the rounds during that campaign year. When I was working for a social service agency in the early 80s that focused in on youth job training, O’Pake graciously hosted a meeting in his office in Reading to see if he could supplement our funds with state money. O’Pake was a charmer on the campaign trail and at one point could have made a move for higher office. But he was content to stay in the Senate.
O'Pake, was the longest-serving member of the Pennsylvania Legislature, died Monday. He was 70.
O'Pake died of complications from heart-bypass surgery at Reading Hospital and Medical Center, where he had remained since the Nov. 22 operation, according to longtime aide Jim Hertzler.
A Democrat from Berks County, O'Pake was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1968, and to the state Senate four years later. He died midway through his 10th consecutive Senate term.
As the first chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, O'Pake helped write the child protective services law that helps child abuse victims and was a leading advocate of the state's pioneering Children's Health Insurance Program, which provide health insurance to uninsured children and teens who do not qualify for Medicaid. He also fought for legislation that created the state Department of Aging and separate offices of aging in every county.
Last month, fellow Senate Democrats re-elected O'Pake as minority whip, the No. 2 caucus leadership position.


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