Robert Edgar

Former Claremont School of Theology president, Pennsylvania congressman

Bob Edgar, former president of Claremont School of Theology and 6-term Pennsylvania congressman, died unexpectedly at his home in Burke, Virginia. He was 69.

Since 2007, Mr. Edgar was president and CEO of Common Cause, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to increasing accountability in government. During his most recent appearance on C-SPAN, he advocated for increased transparency in campaign finance.

“Bob Edgar led this school to increased viability, visibility and vibrancy during his 10-year tenure,” said Jerry D. Campbell, president of the Claremont School of Theology. “We are saddened to learn of his untimely passing, and our prayers are with his family, friends, and the staff of Common Cause.”

An Ordained Elder of the United Methodist Church, Mr. Edgar came to Claremont in 1990 after a period of acute financial distress at the school. Over the next 10 years, he led the school through a period of growth, fundraising, and intellectual vitality. He also oversaw the rebranding of the institution to its current name, and the Edgar Community Center on campus today bears his name.

After his tenure at CST, he led the National Council of Churches for 7 years, where he addressed issues of poverty, environmental degradation, international peace and interfaith relations.

Mr. Edgar leaves a distinguished legacy in public service. He was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1974 to represent the Seventh Congressional District of Pennsylvania, and was part of the congressional class nicknamed “the Watergate babies,” those elected in the wake of the Watergate scandal, who led sweeping reforms of Congress. During his 6 terms there, he led efforts on a number of environmental and reform bills, and worked on veterans’ issues including Agent Orange and readjustment counseling for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr. Edgar, who was born May 29, 1943 and was raised in Springfield, Pennsylvania, received a bachelor’s degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and a master’s in divinity from the Theological School of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He sat on the boards of several organizations, including the National Coalition on Health Care, the Environment and Energy Study Institute; the National Foundation on Alternative Medicine, Drew University; and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

Mr. Edgar was the author of Middle Church, a call to progressive people of faith to take back the moral high ground from religious extremists and make America a better and less divided country.

He is survived by his wife, Merle Edgar, and 3 sons, Andrew, David and Rob.


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