Robert Shipley Auerbach, one of the founding members of the Maryland Green Party and the party's three-time nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives, died Dec. 12 from injuries suffered in a hit-and-run accident that evening in Greenbelt. He was 92.
Born in New York City in 1919, Mr. Auerbach became involved in politics, particularly election reform, in the 1930s. He was active in such groups as the Congress of Racial Equality and the War Resisters League.
Mr. Auerbach moved to Greenbelt, where he ran for City Council, more than 50 years ago. A founder of the Green Party's Maryland affiliate, he was nominated for the state's 5th District seat, for the third time, this year. He was also the party's nominee for state comptroller in 2006.
During the civil rights movement, Mr. Auerbach was arrested in protests in New York and New Jersey. He was a marshal at the 1963 March on Washington and protested the Vietnam War.
"He was active in … organizations promoting social justice and equality," said Mark Miller, reference librarian at Montgomery College and a Green Party member. "Bob was convinced that to achieve those goals will require our society to move from a system of economic exploitation to a cooperative economy. Bob insisted on gradual improvement and nonviolent techniques for change."
Mr. Miller said that often, Green Party candidates such as Mr. Auerbach drew detractors for running in elections which they seemed to have no chance to win. But those candidates often bring to the forefront issues that otherwise would not be discussed, Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Auerbach opposed military buildup and frequently refused invitations to attend ribbon-cutting ceremonies for military installations, Mr. Miller said.
"One of the interesting things about being critical of the military buildup is that this issue would not have even been raised in the campaign if Bob wasn't running," said Mr. Miller.
Still, while Mr. Auerbach was critical of government policy, "he was very respectful and generous of human beings," Mr. Miller said. "That attitude is less common than it should be."
Green Party member Tim Willard, of Kensington, said he first met Mr. Auerbach about 30 years ago, when Mr. Auerbach was running the Washington chapter of the Socialist Party.
"He was one of the most dedicated people to the ideals he believed in that I've ever known," Mr. Willard said. "He spent his life working for peace, equal rights and power for the common people."
Mr. Willard said the Maryland Green Party chose Mr. Auerbach to serve as one of the electors for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's campaign "as a salute to his long years as an activist."
Mr. Auerbach's daughter, Jennine Auerbach of Baltimore, said she remembers her father being so active in politics while she was growing up that "I thought everyone got a turn in the White House. His activist issues were peace, social justice and environmentalism. He believed that everyone should be treated equally and that those who have more money should support [those] who had less."
"He lived through the Great Depression, so he was very frugal. Peace was his primary thing, then social justice and environmentalism. He was for all of these things long before it was popular. My father recycled. … You had to go to great pains to recycle in the old days, and he did it."
Mr. Auerbach graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from New York University in 1948. He earned a master's in library science from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College in 1956 and served as a reference librarian at the University of the District of Columbia and an assistant librarian at the College of Steubenville in Ohio.
Greenbelt police said Mr. Auerbach was walking across the southbound lanes of Hanover Parkway about 6:27 p.m. Dec. 12 when he was struck by a vehicle. The driver fled the scene, and Mr. Auerbach was transported to a local hospital, where he died about 11:15 p.m., police said. The suspected driver has been identified, and the investigation is continuing, police said.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Auerbach is survived by another daughter, Hopi Auerbach of Greenbelt; his son in-law John Murphy; granddaughter Amara Murphy; and grandson Carson Murphy, all of Baltimore. Mr. Auerbach's marriage to Mary Carson ended in divorce.
Plans for a memorial service are incomplete, Jennine Auerbach said.
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