PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — John Rensenbrink, a Maine political scientist and conservationist who co-founded the United States Green Party, has died. He was 93.
Rensenbrink, from Topsham, died in hospice surrounded by his family, the national Green Party said. Rensenbrink died of illness on July 30, according to an obituary in the Bangor Daily News.
Rensenbrink helped convene the first Green Party meeting in the United States, held in Maine in 1984, the national party said in a statement. He also helped found the Maine Green Party, which was the first state-level Green Party and is now known as the Maine Green Independent Party, its members said.
Rensenbrink taught political philosophy and history at Bowdoin College in Maine for decades and helped found the new political party out of frustration with the Democratic Party and a desire to advocate for peace and the environment.
He is remembered by former and current Green Party members as a tireless activist and a key figure in the development of Green organizing.
“John Rensenbrink embodied the best of American progressive politics for decades, combining thought with action and motivating Greens from the local to the national and international levels,” said government reform advocate Ralph Nader, who won two green tickets for the presidency ran, in a statement .
Rensenbrink was born in Pease, Minnesota to a family of dairy farmers. He received his doctorate from the University of Chicago and settled in Maine in the 1960s.
He ran for the US Senate in 1996 and received about 4% of the vote in an election won by Republican Senator Susan Collins, who still serves today. He also ran political campaigns and was elected the first co-chair of the Maine Green Party, the state party said in a statement.
“Not only did he revolutionize third-party politics in the United States, he showed us how to re-contextualize our views of ourselves outside of conventional political and economic structures,” said Fred McCann, co-chair of the Maine Green Independent party today.
Rensenbrink’s obituary says there will be a memorial service in his honor in September.
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