- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Former U.S. Rep. Don Edwards of California, a fierce champion of civil rights and the environment during his three decades in Washington, died at the age of 100.

Leonard Edwards said his father died Thursday night in his sleep at his home in Carmel.

“It was a fully productive life,” Leonard Edwards said Friday. “You really can’t ask for more than 100 years and all of the things he did, and he passed away peacefully, which is a blessing.”

Tributes rolled in for the man who passionately fought for the rights of minorities and women, and helped create an urban wildlife refuge at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area.

U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi praised Edwards as a venerable civil rights champion who pushed for landmark civil rights and voting rights legislation.

“Congressman Edwards, the long-time dean of the California Democratic delegation and conscience of the Congress, strived to move our country forward,” she said in a statement.

William Donlon “Don” Edwards was born in 1915 in San Jose.

He graduated from Stanford University and attended Stanford Law School before becoming an FBI agent in 1940. During World War II he served as a naval officer.

Edwards was elected to Congress in 1962 and established a reputation as an unabashed liberal and gentleman.

He joined the Freedom Riders in the 1960s and opposed the Vietnam War. He was chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on civil and constitutional rights for more than two decades before retiring in 1995.

He married three times and outlived all his wives. His survivors include four sons.

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