As a Pennsylvania state legislator for 39 years, I have gotten to know many, many politicians. None was a finer human being than Bob Edgar.
I was with Bob the night before he was defeated for US Senator in 1986. He had to know that he was going to lose. But he was at his inspirational and upbeat best, exhorting 35th Ward Philadelphia Democrats to bring out the vote for all the right reasons.
I was one of many he appointed to his Presidential Advisory Panel for Common Cause in 2007. He wanted to bring Common Cause back to the cutting edge of politics, and he succeeded, tackling the influence of the Koch Brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
I was there when he spoke up for my father's re-election campaign for City Council in 1987. My father was then 72 years old. "I want to be like David Cohen when I grow up," he said. Sadly, if growing up means being 72, he never made it. But he helped all of us grow up by showing the power of kindness, vision, and going step by step, year after year, decade after decade.
I was with Bob when he was exploring running for Senator in 1980, a race he ultimately decided not to run. He promised that if elected to the Senate then, he would be a leader there. More than 30 years later, it is clear he far exceeded his promise: he was a leader in our country.
Like so many others generally not known to each other, I will deeply miss Bob both personally and professionally. A meeting with him is on my calendar for early May. I will use that time to both reflect on our loss, and to reflect on the gratitude that we all should have for his long march to make our country and our institutions live up to their promise.