Remembering Bob Edgar

We are heartbroken at the sudden loss of Bob Edgar, our leader, dear friend, and fellow advocate. Bob touched so many people in his life, and in our grief we are touched today by the outpouring of support, condolences and love from some of the thousands of people he was close to.

Robert Reich, Chairman, Common Cause National Governing Board

We are deeply saddened and shaken today by the passing of Bob Edgar,” Common Cause Board Chairman Robert Reich said in a release announcing Edgar’s death. “Bob will be remembered for his decency, kindness, compassion and humor. His deep commitment to social justice and strengthening our democracy is his greatest gift to Common Cause and the nation.


House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

Today, our country lost one of its most ardent, passionate, and effective voices of a more open and honest democracy.  Whether in the Capitol or at Common Cause, Congressman Bob Edgar dedicated his life to ensuring our government lived up to the values it was formed to protect.

A proud son of Pennsylvania, Bob spent 12 years in Congress focused on advancing and strengthening the health, security, and prosperity of the American people.  An extraordinary patriot, he secured support for veterans suffering from the sacrifices they made in the Vietnam War.  A man of deep faith, he led the National Council of Churches in its work to combat poverty, foster interfaith understanding, and build international peace.  A dedicated champion of transparency and fairness, he picked up the mantle of reform to protect and preserve a government determined by the votes of the people, not the pocketbooks of the privileged few.

Congressman Edgar is an extraordinary example of how the strength of one voice can empower millions to call for change.  His memory and legacy will inspire his colleagues and everyone who seeks a more open, just, and perfect union.  We only hope it is a comfort to his wife Merle, his sons, Andrew, David, and Rob, and their families that so many mourn their loss at this sad time.


Fred Wertheimer, president, Democracy 21

I am deeply saddened by the passing today of Bob Edgar, the President of Common Cause.

Bob was an outstanding leader of the reform community. He was deeply committed to the basic values of fairness, honesty and social justice and to a government that represents all of its citizens, not one that is dominated by political influence-money.

Bob believed in speaking truth to power. He brought his many years of experience as a Member of Congress and as the head of a national citizens’ organization to the forefront of the battle to protect our democracy against the corruption of our government and officeholders.

Bob will be sorely missed by all of us in the reform community and by citizens throughout the country who believe that Washington should represent their interests, not the special interests.

I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Bob’s wife and family on his untimely passing and to express my great appreciation for his service to the country.


Craig Aaron, President and CEO, Free Press

I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Bob Edgar. He was a great American, a man of faith and a true public servant who fought to make our democracy stronger. He was also one of the kindest people in Washington, always generous with his time and willing to share his experience. Our condolences go out to the Edgar family, his many friends and our close allies at Common Cause. He will be missed, but we will continue working together to carry forward his important work.


Campaign Legal Center

All of us at the Campaign Legal Center were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing this morning of Bob Edgar, the tireless and dedicated president of Common Cause.  Bob brought passion and integrity to all of his many undertakings and his steadfast presence and dedication in the reform community will be sorely missed.  We had the pleasure of working with Bob on a great many initiatives since he took the helm at Common Cause.  We greatly appreciated and admired his ability to remain upbeat and committed to improving our democracy, whether in the face of triumph or setback.  For Bob, a setback like the ill-considered Supreme Court decision in Citizens United could never be used as an excuse to cede the field.  Instead, he chose to use it as a clarion call to safeguard democracy and immediately set about mobilizing for justice.  Our democracy will miss his leadership, but his work will go on.

We would like to express our condolences to his family and to all of those who worked with Bob at Common Cause.  We join them in mourning his passing.


Nick Nyhart, President, Public Campaign

A preacher by training, Bob would often engage audiences in this call-and-response chant.

We are. (We are.)

The leaders. (The leaders.)

We’ve been waiting for. (We’ve been waiting for.)

With public figures it’s always important to listen to what they say, but to keep a closer eye on what they do. Leading by example, Bob never hesitated when justice was at stake. We are better off for that fact. Thank you, Bob.


National Council of Churches

Condolences and prayers to his family, friends, and colleagues. We are grateful for his service and faithful leadership during his time on Earth.


Free Speech for People

All of us at Free Speech For People are deeply shocked and saddened by the news today of Rev. Bob Edgar’s passing. Bob lived his life with honor and integrity. As the president of Common Cause since 2007, he was a champion for the cause of democracy here at home. He worked tirelessly to see that this nation lives up to its basic ideals. He was an American hero and will be sorely missed by all of those here and around the world whose lives he touched. Our thoughts are with him and his family and all at Common Cause during this difficult time.


Paul Fanlund, columnist, The Capital Times, Madison, WI

Others who truly knew him will certainly eulogize him far more eloquently than I can. But I’ve been interviewing and writing about people for decades and last week I recall thinking the country would be better off with more Bob Edgars in it.

Which makes today all the harder.


Michael Keegan, president, People for the American Way Foundation

All of us at People For the American Way Foundation are saddened to learn of the passing of Bob Edgar, a true progressive hero. Bob devoted his life to public service, as a member of Congress, a leader for progressive people of faith and a tireless advocate for our democracy. His kindness, good humor and commitment to holding our nation up to its highest ideals were an inspiration to all who were fortunate enough to work with him. He will be sorely missed.”


US Rep. Chellie Pingree, Common Cause President 2003-07

Bob Edgar’s sudden passing is a terrible and tragic loss for the country.  Bob was a committed public servant, a tireless advocate for better government, and an inspirational leader.  More than that, he was a kind-hearted and compassionate human being whose drive for social change came from a deeply sincere wish to make people’s lives better.  We lose his voice for empowerment and democracy at a critical time.  My thoughts are with his family and everyone who worked with him at Common Cause.”


Michael Waldman, President, Brennan Center for Justice

We are saddened by the untimely passing of Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause. We were honored to work with Bob through the years in the fight to renew American democracy. His optimism and high ideals were powerful forces. We extend our deep condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues at Common Cause.


Wade Henderson, President, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Bob Edgar was a minister for all Americans. He challenged our nation to live up to its greatest ideals of integrity, rule of law, and equality. During his distinguished career as an advocate, reverend, and member of Congress, Bob championed the ideal that a true democracy would lead to greater respect for the rule of law and human rights. He was a master at connecting kitchen table issues with the need to ensure ethics, transparency, and accountability in our government.  Bob was an incredible force in the global social justice movement, a trusted advisor, and a dear friend of The Leadership Conference. Our hearts go out to Bob’s wife, Merle, to his family, and to his colleagues at Common Cause.


League of Women Voters of Michigan

The League is sad to hear of the death of Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause. We have all lost a leader in the fight to hold those in power accountable to the public.


Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

 We’re stunned and devastated to learn of the sudden death of our dear friend and Common Cause President Bob Edgar. Bob radiated a passion for justice, and with joyful fervor he inspired everyone around him to share his belief in, and commitment to working for, a more democratic and just society. Through a long and varied career, Bob took on many roles and causes – but all of the chapters in his remarkable life were connected by his essential decency, kindness and compassion.


Melanie Sloan, director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Along with many members of the reform community and innumerable people around the country, I am incredibly saddened to hear of Bob’s death earlier today. We are indebted to Bob for his tireless efforts to improve our democracy.  At a time when so many former members of Congress walk through the revolving door to lucrative lobbying careers, Bob’s decision to use his experience in the House of Representatives to battle congressional corruption and malfeasance is even more admirable.  His positive attitude, energy, and refusal to be defeated will be sorely missed. Everyone at CREW extends their deepest sympathies to Bob’s family and his colleagues at Common Cause.


Progress Florida

Common Cause Pres. Bob Edgar has died. Our nation has lost a great man who fought everyday to hold power accountable


Aaron Dorfman, executive director, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

Bob was a warrior for social justice and democracy, and a fearless truth-teller. He will continue to be an inspiration for many of us working to help our country live up to its highest aspirations.


Lisa Graves, executive director, Center for Media and Democracy

It is with enormous sadness that we learned about the passing earlier today of Common Cause President Bob Edgar. The Center for Media and Democracy has been honored to work with Bob over the past few years, and in particular we have appreciated his energy in our joint efforts to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council. Bob has been a tremendous ally in exposing not just ALEC but in fighting to overturn the Supreme Court’s terrible decision in the Citizens United case and in the collective efforts to shine a light on the Koch brothers and on politicians and judges beholden to wealthy special interests. Bob sincerely believed that America’s democratic ideals are at risk from unchecked corporate power, and he was determined to do something about it. He put his boundless energy and heartfelt convictions to work as President of Common Cause in defense of democracy. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with Bob, his family and all of his very many friends.


Diana Aviv, president and CEO, Independent Sector

Bob was a dear colleague and friend. He had a deep commitment to helping others and changing the world and his contributions were invaluable. His dedication to advancing the common good was evidenced in his leadership on many public works issues. We have lost a dear friend and partner.


Miles Rapoport, president, Demos

We were deeply saddened to learn today of the sudden passing of our friend and ally in the fight for a more inclusive democracy Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause. Our hearts go out to his family and friends as well as the board and staff at Common Cause.

Bob was a stalwart champion for democracy, working fervently to make our democratic processes more accessible and meaningful to citizens. Since 2007, his visionary leadership at Common Cause expanded the historic organization’s reach and impact. Demos was proud to work side by side with Bob and Common Cause on many issues in our nation’s capital and in the states.

Although the impact of his work will live on, we will miss his energy and passion for social justice in the days and years ahead.


Rabbi David Saperstein, director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judiasm

Bob fulfilled the dictum of Ecclesiastes: ‘Whatsover your hands find to do, do with all your might.’ There was no more relentless champion for social justice in American or across the globe; a truly principled person who took courageous, sometimes unpopular, stands on some of the most vital moral issues of our time, and never wavered in his search for equality for all human beings.

“Throughout, Bob’s decency and kindess was the key to his success in his ecumenical, interfaith and advocacy work ever as it was a blessing to his loved ones and his wide circle of friends. Bob’s strong and passionate voice will be missed, but our nation and world are better thanks to his gifts.

“We extend our condolences to Merle and Bob’s entire family. Zichrono L’iveracha; May his memory be for a blessing.”


Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president, Interfaith Alliance

Bob has been one of most consistent and loudest cheerleaders for the work of Interfaith Alliance.  And, he has been a close personal friend with whom private conversations were always valuable.  Less than a week ago in a meeting at the Aspen Institute I teased Bob about his puns and jokes, but I admired the fact that I never once heard him stop hoping or saw him without a smile on his face.  Standing on the sidewalk around Dupont Circle last week, Bob and I talked for a long time about our work and concerns.  We spoke seriously about the personal cost involved in our commitment to the kind of unrelenting activity required in trying to make our country a better, more secure, and more caring place to live. We both agreed the toll it took was worth it because of the passion we had for our work.

Bob Edgar will be missed by many of us who now, far too soon, grieve his death and who always will be grateful for his life.”




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15 Responses to “Remembering Bob Edgar”

  1. Kim Noreen Anderson April 24, 2013 at 2:26 am

    This is a deep loss for all of us ~ the whole country – the whole planet. He is a most remarkable man ~ and the work he has done will live forever on and much will be done going forward in his name…as part of his incredible legacy…

  2. We were deeply saddened by the news of Bob’s passing. Bob has been a diligent board member for the Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine for many years. He has been the most active member offering monthly oversight, always taking time from his busy life to offer ideas and inspiration. There aren’t many people who have the passion and fortitude that Bob brought to everything that he did and all the people that he touched. Bob was not only an active board member but he was a trusted friend, as well. He was elected to Congress along with our founder, Berkley Bedell. Berkley has shared many times that Bob was one of his two closest friends. His passing is a loss that will take a long time to heal but his memory stays strong and his legacy deep. Our thoughts go out to Merle and his entire family.

  3. Bob determined an persistent leadership, not so much in rank or title, but in his ideas for betterment of humankind will be remembered. He understood the transitory nature of our condition. He kept us moving forward to a better world.

    Others will take his place using his example. He’d like that.

  4. It is always sad when those working for good in the world die. Apparently he was only 69 years old and would have turned 70 next month. In his work to bridge people of various traditions, those of us who are scientistic were still not recognized, however. This is a growing problem, as discoveries in physical science (and especially neuroscience) make the superstitions increasingly appear absurd.

  5. Bob Edgar’s passing is a loss for all. His record and accomplishments will be appreciated for generations to follow. My wife and I were with Bob and many others in Palm Springs, California in early 2011 demonstrating against Eric Cantor and the Koch Brothers. Bob’s civil involvement in this event and his interaction with many in the crowd impressed us.

    Today, Heaven has another angel.

    Geoff & Irene Murphy
    Lake Elsinore, California

  6. Jim Leach
    Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities

    With Bob Edgar faith and political involvement were synonomous. As a representative of the people, he was generally liberal and in an old-fashioned way considered partisan. But like his ecumenical approach to faith he was always respective of the political views of others. He understood that seldom is there only one way to advance a cause. Bob’s concerns were for people and our country rather than personal ambition and political party. It is no accident he was an ecumentical leader in the church and a non-partisan reform advocate when he left Congress. His advocacy was always coupled with open-minede decency. The only thing he had a hard time tolerating was intolerance. He will be much missed.

  7. I don’t remember the first time I met Bob, but over the past six years I have interacted with him often in connection with my work helping to build a strong climate movement to drive the urgently-needed shift from fossil fuels to renewables, energy efficiency and genuine stewardship of the earth.

    Bob got it on this issue and took action accordingly. He spoke at a press conference on Capitol Hill in September, 2007 announcing a national “climate emergency fast” that I and thousands of others were undertaking on that day. He spoke in the dark in the spring of 2011 in Alexandria, Va. as part of a demonstration calling for the shutting down of the very old and dirty coal plant in that town. Most recently, he spoke at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church on January 15, the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., as part of an Interfaith Moral Action on Climate event calling upon President Obama to make the climate crisis a major priority of his second term.

    Bob was a role model for spiritually-grounded individuals who want to use those beliefs in the present to create a more just and peaceful world.

    Ted Glick
    National Campaign Coordinator
    Chesapeake Climate Action Network

  8. I saw and heard Bob Edgar speak in New Britain, CT a few months ago and was very impressed. I just went to your website to see the latest in your suit against ALEC and sawy that he died. I was shocked.
    I wanted to get our local Hartford chapter involved.
    My condolences to all who knew him.

  9. Bob was a model to my efforts to “move the needle” in positive directions that year 2100 will find desirable societies on planet earth in: 1) my profession of engineering, 2) federal civil service, and 3) Christian faith communities.

    What I most wish to remember and model about Bob in remainder of my earthly pilgrimage is “he always had a smile” – because Bob knew something I know – but he showed it *much* more regularly than I – the most “unfair” thing about our lives is how “unfairly fair” life has been to us, including the ability to be a blessing to others.

    Joe Carson, PE
    President, Affiliation of Christian Engineers

  10. I had the privilege to have know the most reverend Bob Edgar. I worked on his 1986 campaign for US Senate.

    Our nation and our civilization lost one of its best people today.

  11. A remarkable leader of men and women – but above all, a gentle, compassionate soul.

  12. I was stunned when I read the news (of Bob Edgar’s passing) on Religion News Service. What a loss for our country, for causes of justice and peace, for sheer humanity!
    I was on the first delegation Bob invited to go to Vietnam to investigate the lingering effects of Agent Orange in that country. He cared deeply about the Vietnamese people… and their continued suffering from war. He cared about all people, especially those who are poor and suffering.
    I remember Bob as gentle, utterly dedicated to justice and peace… a true man of the gospel… with a great sense of humor (which is always the truest sign of holiness in anyone!). He will be sorely missed.

  13. Michael Kinnamon April 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Bob Edgar was my predecessor as General Secretary of the National Council of Churches. During his time at the Council, Bob mobilized the churches to oppose the war in Iraq, raised alarm in the churches about the threat posed by climate change, and called the churches to stand firmly with the poor in the budget battles on Capitol Hill–a truly courageous and prophetic witness. He was a friend to me, a voice of support during my own time as General Secretary, and a constant challenge to continue this legacy of social justice and peace. I will miss him.

    Michael Kinnamon


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