Don Edwards (1915 - 2015)

Former U.S. Representative Don Edwards has died, according to The Associated Press. He was 100.

A leading congressional Democrat from California, he was a champion of civil rights and the environment during his three decades on the hill in Washington. He opposed the Vietnam War, joined the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights movement and was arrested for protesting South African apartheid in the 1980s. Colleagues described him as "the conscience of Congress."

"They knew he had integrity and was doing what he thought was right," said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a former staffer and successor to Edwards' seat in Congress.

On the environmental front, he fought to preserve urban wetlands, leading to the 1972 creation of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was later renamed the Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge in his honor when he retired from Congress in 1995.

Click to get weekly celebrity death news delivered to your inbox. 

Edwards, a San Jose native, was a graduate of Stanford University and became an FBI agent in 1940. He was a naval officer during World War II. He was elected to his first Congressional term in 1962.

"He died peacefully and with a great deal of grace," his son Len Edwards said in a statement. He died Thursday night at his home in Carmel, CA.

Edwards is survived by his four sons.

We invite you to share condolences for Don Edwards in our Guest Book.