Former Rep. Matthew “Marty” Martinez of California died Saturday in his home in Virginia at the age of 82.
After winning a special election in 1982 to fill the seat resigned by Rep. George Danielson, Martinez was re-elected eight times.
A Democrat, Martinez switched his party affiliation to Republican after losing a primary in 2000 to then state Sen. Hilda Solis, now Secretary of the Labor Department.
As a Member of Congress, Martinez was known as a champion of youth and the elderly in the Los Angeles area and served on Congressional committees on education and international relations. He was a primary sponsor of the 1993 bill that created the AmeriCorps youth service program.
During the Clinton administration, he received attention for his stance on gun control.
A member of the National Rifle Association, he originally said he would vote against the Clinton-backed ban on 19 types of assault-style weapons, arguing it would cause gun manufacturing jobs to head overseas. Pressured by the Clinton administration, he eventually voted for the bill.
Born on Feb. 14, 1929, in Walsenburg, Colo., Martinez grew up in Los Angeles and attended Roosevelt High School. He went on to graduate from Los Angeles Trade Technical College and served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
He served as mayor of Monterey Park and then on the state Assembly before his time in Congress. He was the third Hispanic from California to serve in Congress.
Martinez is survived by his wife, Maxine Grant, five children, two stepchildren, 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.