The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) celebrates the life and service of Robert P. Dugan, Jr., who died Tuesday at age 78.

Dugan was the leading figure in the Washington, D.C., office of the NAE from 1978-1997. Under his leadership, the Office of Public Affairs gained significant influence on Capitol Hill. Dugan was instrumental in the passage of bills on drunk driving, church audit procedures, and equal access to public school facilities for religious organizations. President Ronald Reagan addressed the NAE twice during Dugan’s tenure.

“Bob Dugan was well-equipped to serve as the director of the NAE’s Office of Public Affairs,” said Billy A. Melvin, NAE Executive Director, 1967-1995. “He had a God-given instinct to know how and when to address national issues of concern to the evangelical community. It was a joy to share with him in service to evangelicals.”

Richard Cizik worked for 17 years with Dugan and succeeded him as Vice President of Governmental Affairs. “Bob Dugan was not only my friend, but he was an extraordinary evangelical leader who exemplified the values that our movement has always prized – integrity, honesty, love of Jesus as his Savior. But for all the status and dignity, it was his great personal warmth and friendliness that may be his most lasting legacy.”

Dugan published the monthly newsletter, NAE Washington Insight, and he became a trusted voice for evangelicals in the nation’s capital. Following his retirement, Dugan continued to serve on the NAE Board of Directors through August 2009.

“Bob Dugan has been my lifelong friend and mentor,” said Leith Anderson, president of the NAE. “He faithfully used his many gifts as a pastor, author, speaker and especially as the voice of evangelicals on public policy.”

Dugan received a B.A. from Wheaton College, a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Divinity from Denver Seminary. After seminary, he served in pastoral positions at Brookdale Baptist Church in Bloomfield, N.J., True Memorial Baptist Church in Rochester, N.H., First Baptist Church in Elmhurst, Ill., and Trinity Baptist Church in Wheat Ridge, Colo. He also served as the chaplain of the Colorado State Senate, which led to his involvement in politics. After an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congress in 1976, Dugan joined the NAE staff.

Dugan is the author of two books, “Winning the New Civil War” and “Stand Up and Be Counted.”  He served as the chairman of the board of Denver Seminary and the president of the Conservative Baptist Association of America.

Dugan is survived by his wife, Lynne; son, Robert Dugan, III; and daughter, Cheri Rifkin.