Long before Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, Louis and Judith Friedman were traveling the world, discussing environmental issues. Their advocacy came to an end Tuesday when the couple—who once gave Mikhail Gorbachev a solar-powered watch—were found dead in their Connecticut home by an attorney who dropped by for a planned appointment, reports the Hartford Courant. Police won't say how the couple died—the official causes of death are to be released Wednesday, per Fox 61—but "evidence indicates the deaths were apparent suicides," says a police chief. Friends say both suffered from health issues. Louis, 81, was typically housebound by knee and heart problems, while Judith, 80, had just retired from the People's Action for Clean Energy partly over medical concerns.
The couple started speaking out about environmental issues some 25 years ago and their house in Canton—"an energy-efficient marvel," per the Courant—was among the first in Connecticut to use solar panels. The Friedmans eventually traveled Europe and Asia advocating for environmental issues and world peace for Washington-based groups EarthKind and Promoting Enduring Peace. After the Chernobyl disaster, Louis Friedman even raised money for victims and organized tours to stress the importance of clean energy. "We've had many people tell us that what we do is too intense and depressing," Louis told the New York Times in 1992. "Well, if anything, we feel invigorated." As one friend puts it, "they set an example for all of us." Says another: "They were awesome, they were just rocks, solid rocks. They lived what they believed. They walked their talk." (Read more Connecticut stories.)