BURKE, Va. (AP) — Robert W. Edgar, who represented Pennsylvania for six terms in the House of Representatives and went on to lead the public interest group Common Cause, died Tuesday. He was 69.
Edgar collapsed Tuesday morning in the basement of his home in Burke after a run on the treadmill, said his wife of 48 years, Merle Edgar.
Edgar, a liberal Democrat, was elected in 1974 in a large class of newcomers that came to Washington following the Watergate scandal. His political career ended after he lost a U.S. Senate campaign in 1986 to Arlen Specter.
Edgar had maintained an active travel schedule with Common Cause until his death, advocating for open government. He was the group’s president and CEO from 2007 until his death.
He also served as secretary general of the National Council of Churches from 2000 to 2007.
His wife said that his career after politics was a natural extension of his work as an elected official; he gravitated to jobs in public service.
“He was always trying to make the world a better place for all human beings,” she said.
Common Cause Board Chair Robert Reich said in a written statement, “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. Our hearts are with Bob’s family, his wife Merle, and sons Andrew, David and Rob, and their families.”
Edgar grew up in Springfield, Pa., in Delaware County, and graduated from Lycoming College.
He represented the Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District outside of Philadelphia, a seat held mostly by Republicans since before the Civil War.
He was an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.