Steve Russell  /  AP
Bob Hunter died Monday after a long bout with prostate cancer.
updated 5/2/2005 7:20:54 PM ET 2005-05-02T23:20:54

Canadian Bob Hunter, who co-founded Greenpeace and used his savvy as a journalist to turn the environmental group’s fight to an international cause, died Monday after a battle with prostate cancer, the organization said. He was 63.

Hunter, a columnist for the Vancouver Sun in the 1960s and most recently an ecology broadcaster for Canadian media, first came to prominence in 1971 with the launch of Greenpeace and its protests against nuclear testing. He brought public attention to the hunting of whales and seals, as well as the dumping of toxic waste into the oceans.

The bearded Hunter was once named one of Time magazine’s top eco-heroes of the 20th century.

“Bob was a creative force in shaping Greenpeace,” said Bruce Cox, executive director of Greenpeace Canada. “His passion and his commitment translated into powerful communications, and his unorthodox approach to communications helped define Greenpeace.”

Hunter, who coined the phrase “Don’t Make a Wave” to describe his opposition to nuclear testing, boarded a small fishing boat, dubbed the “Greenpeace,” in 1971 to set off to Alaska to protest U.S. nuclear testing.

“I thought I was going to be a reporter, taking notes,” Hunter later said, according to a news release from Greenpeace. “In reality, I wound up on first watch.” He remained on board for 45 days.

Hunter helped establish the in-your-face communication style that became a Greenpeace trademark. He became the first president of Greenpeace in 1973, and led it through its transformation into an international group present in 40 countries, with more than 2.5 million members worldwide.

His media savvy and passion for ecology were critical to the organization, the group said, having adopted the term “rainbow warriors” to describe Greenpeace activists.

In his most recent role, the Manitoba-born Hunter was the ecology news specialist for CHUM’s Citytv and CP24 TV channels. He was perhaps best known to Toronto viewers for Paper Cuts, a segment in which Hunter wore a bathrobe and commented on the stories in the day’s newspapers.

“This was a man with a great loving heart, a brilliant mind and a massive spirit,” said Stephen Hurlbut, vice president of news programming for Citytv.

Hunter died surrounded by his wife, Bobbi and his children Will, Emily, Conan and Justine, according to Citytv. Funeral arrangements were yet to be decided.

“Bob was an inspirational storyteller, an audacious fighter and an unpretentious mystic,” said John Doherty, Chair of Greenpeace Canada. “He was serious about saving the world while always maintaining a sense of humor.”

Greenpeace said Hunter’s spirit would live on “through the people he inspired, the whales he saved and the organization he helped create.”

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