Robert William "Bob" Edgar (May 29, 1943 – April 23, 2013) was an American businessman, politician and administrator from Pennsylvania, and a member of the Democratic Party. He served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1975 to 1987, representing the 7th district of Pennsylvania. He served as president and CEO of Common Cause, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization, from May 2007 until his death. Edgar died suddenly at his home on April 23, 2013, following a heart attack.[2][3]

Early life and education

Edgar was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Springfield, Pennsylvania.

He attended Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, and then was ordained a minister after graduating with a Master of Divinity degree from the Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He received a certificate in pastoral psychiatry from Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia in 1969. He later served as United Protestant Chaplain of Drexel University, and as a special assistant to Congressman Bill Gray.[1] From 2001 until his death he was a member of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference; he transferred from the California Pacific Conference.[4]

Congressional career

With his 1974 election to the House of Representatives, Edgar became the first Democrat in 36 years to represent the seventh congressional district of Pennsylvania, located primarily in Delaware County.[1]

Serving in the United States Congress from 1975 to 1987, Edgar sought to improve public transportation, authored the community Right to Know provisions of Super Fund legislation, and co-authored the new G.I. Bill for the all-volunteer service.[citation needed] Among other appointments, he served as chair of the Congressional Clearinghouse on the Future from 1982 through 1986, and as a member of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, from 1976 through 1978, that investigated the deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and President John F. Kennedy.

Edgar ran for the United States Senate in 1986, defeating Auditor General Don Bailey, a former congressman from western Pennsylvania, in the primary, but lost the general election to incumbent Republican Senator Arlen Specter by more than 12 percentage points. It is this experience that led Edgar to become frustrated with political campaigning and money in politics, even taking a somewhat sympathetic and supportive stance on clean elections and campaign finance reform, which he dictated at the 2004 Democracy Matters Conference in Albany, New York.[citation needed]

Claremont School of Theology

In 1990, Edgar began a ten-year term of service as President of Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California, a graduate-professional school related to the United Methodist Church and part of the Claremont educational consortium east of Los Angeles. He is credited with bringing the school from financial distress into a stable and successful period of growth.[by whom?][citation needed]

National Council of Churches

In 2000, Edgar began a seven-year term as chief executive of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Under his leadership, the 50-year-old NCC began to reshape its mission, focusing its energies on major initiatives in the areas of overcoming poverty, protecting the natural environment, fostering interfaith understanding, and building international peace.[citation needed] Following his retirement from the NCC, he served six years as President of Common Cause, from 2007 until his death in 2013.

Additional positions

Edgar served on the boards of several organizations, including Independent Sector, the National Coalition for Health Care, and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. He also served on the board of directors of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, an independent, non-profit organization that is a principal resource for Congress on environmental and energy issues.

He was an endorser of the Genocide Intervention Network.[clarification needed]

Honors and awards

Edgar was recognized by several national organizations for his work, including by the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America and the National Taxpayers Union.[clarification needed][citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–Present.
  2. ^ Palmer, Anna (April 23, 2013). "Common Cause president Bob Edgar dies". Politico. Retrieved April 23, 2013. 
  3. ^ Fanlund, Paul (April 23, 2013). "Stunning death of Bob Edgar, an American hero". The Capital Times. Retrieved April 23, 2013. 
  4. ^ 2012 Journal and Yearbook, Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, The United Methodist Church, p. 71.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lawrence Williams
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Curt Weldon
Party political offices
Preceded by
Pete Flaherty
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Lynn Yeakel