- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Robert “Bob” Auerbach, former Maryland Green Party chairman and three-time congressional candidate from Greenbelt, wasn’t your typical father, according to his daughter Jennine Auerbach.
“He was not the kind of father to take me to ballet lessons, birthday parties or play dates. Instead, he took me to political rallies and war protests. But he always supported me, even during my fleeting rebellious phase when I wanted to go to West Point [Military Academy],” said Jennine Auerbach, the younger of his two children.
Auerbach, 92, was killed Dec. 12 in a hit-and-run accident while crossing the street in Greenbelt, two days before his 93rd birthday. Greenbelt police said no one has been charged in that incident, and the incident remains under investigation.
Community activists, friends and family have credited Auerbach with helping make the Maryland Green Party a growing force in politics, with about 120 people attending a memorial last month to honor the political activist.
In 1997, Auerbach helped organize the Maryland Green Party and became its first chairman, according to Mark Miller, an attorney who helped get the Green Party on the state ballot.
Miller said Auerbach did not believe in assuming power just to force change, but in winning over hearts and minds.
“Bob’s conduct was always in keeping with his character,” Miller said.
George Auerbach, who said his brother always was willing to listen to others, said he told his brother that third parties “don’t have a chance” these days, and the only choices were Democrat or Republican. The Green Party describes itself as “an electoral alternative to a two-party system” on its website.
“Bob always used to say, ‘Oh, no, if we all just voted for the best person for the job, they would be elected, regardless of party,’” George Auerbach recalled.
A native of New York, Auerbach moved to Greenbelt with his wife Mary and their two daughters in 1961. The couple divorced in 1973. Auerbach, who worked as a reference librarian, also served as a marshal in civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington in 1963 and, in the 1970s, chaired the People’s Party of Maryland, a short-lived anti-war party, according to a biography provided by Auerbach’s family.
Mike Cornell, a former co-chairman of the Maryland Green Party, said Auerbach was a celebrity in the national Green Party movement and that people from all over the country came up to greet him at a Green Party convention a few years ago.
“I had no idea he was that well-known throughout the Green Party,” Cornell said.
Auerbach was the Green Party’s nominee for the 5th Congressional District in 2002, 2004 and 2012.
Auerbach’s daughter Hopi Auerbach said her father was reluctant to let age slow him down, even while he was running for Congress in his 90s, and that he did not believe in asking for help.
”It was a matter of pride, but also principle. He believed everyone should do their own chores,” she said.
Jennine Auerbach said her father served as an inspiration.
“Because of him, I value peace, social justice and environmentalism. Because of him, I am a better person,” she said.