Gary K. Hart died of pancreatic cancer at home in Sacramento on Jan. 27. He was 78.

His wife, Dr. Cary Smith Hart, was a childhood Vineyard summer resident whose family owned a rustic summer retreat near Paul’s Point in West Tisbury. Cary and Gary were married in the backyard of the Smith home in 1969. Their daughter Katherine also married on the Vineyard in 2013.

For decades the Hart family made annual summer visits to the Island and enjoyed rituals including the Flying Horses, Illumination Night and Tabernacle singalongs, trips to Bunch of Grapes Bookstore and West Tisbury librar, swims in Seth’s Pond, hikes at Cedar Tree Neck and visits with Cary’s cousins Susannah Bristol of West Chop and Margi Snow of lower Makonikey.

He was an accomplished tennis player who played regularly with many top Vineyard players. In recent years he took up golf and enjoyed playing at Mink Meadows and Farm Neck. He enjoyed daily swims in Vineyard Sound.

He was a California legislator from 1974 to 1994 and California’s secretary of education from 1999 to 2000. He was a leader in California’s education reform, advocating for higher funding for schools. In 1992, he authored the state’s charter school law. It resulted in establishing more than 1,000 charter schools in California.

In addition to his wife Cary Smith Hart, now a retired pediatrician, he is survived by his three daughters: Laura Murray of El Segundo, Calif., Katherine Hart of San Diego and Elissa Hart-Mahan of Washington, D.C.; and six grandchildren.

Donations can be made to the Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary through Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, P.O. Box 1088, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.