Yesterday, the public interest community lost one of its brightest and most effective advocates: Robert W. Edgar, President of Common Cause. Bob collapsed while running on his treadmill at his home in Burke, Virginia. He was 69. I just recently saw Bob at the Watergate conference and we agreed to have lunch as soon as I got through my recent travels. I was going to call him this week. I will always regret missing that last opportunity to sit down with Bob Edgar who was an inspiration to so many, including myself. He was 69.
Edgar came to Congress as a representative from Pennsylvania in the wake of the Watergate scandal. He later lost a Senate race to Arlen Specter. The Pennsylvania voters made the wrong choice, but it may have worked out for the best because Edgar would become president of Common Cause. He was a brilliant choice and worked tirelessly for this renowned public interest organization. He was a former politician who argued for open government and an ordained minister in the Methodist Church who fought for secular civic values.
I have had a number of wonderful conversations with Bob and always found him to be one of the most thoroughly decent and kind men that I have ever known. He leaves behind a wife of 48 years, Merle Edgar, and his sons Andrew, David and Rob. We were all beneficiaries of Bob’s lifetime work for the public interest and I am deeply grateful to Merle and her familyfor sharing his unique man with us. Few people can point to a legacy like the one left by Bob Edgar. He saw great corruption and injustice and fought to end them. He showed what one determined and principled man can do in his world.
He will be missed.