I did not know my father very well, so it was difficult to write this notice. I’m hoping friends and family will share memories over the next weeks so that I can prepare a proper tribute.For now … Russell Hughes Walker, Sr., died Feb. 16 in Durham, N.C., after a bravely fought battle with lung cancer. He was 64. Hughes, as everyone knew him, spent the past five years as a credentialing specialist at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He loved working at the hospital, where he was known for maintaining a never-ending supply of sweets in his office and, more importantly, for his exhaustive knowledge of how the VA works; he absolutely loved mastering the finer points of government bureaucracy. As for Durham the city, somehow this Louisville Cardinals and Kentucky Wildcats fan managed to live within spitting distance of Blue Devil Nation without losing his sense of humor. Hughes was the oldest child of R.R. “Pete” Walker and Edith Cundiff Walker. A 1964 graduate of Adair County High School, he attended Centre College in Danville and later obtained a law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. He was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity at Centre. After college he entered the U.S. Army and was selected for Officer Candidate School. He served three years, leaving the service as a 1st Lieutenant. Politics was his first love, and he did campaign work for a number of notable Kentucky politicians, including Todd Hollenbach Sr., Martha Layne Collins, and Ben Chandler. Under Collins, Kentucky’s first and only woman governor, Hughes was appointed Commissioner of Medicaid at the Cabinet for Human Resources, the state health agency where he worked for nearly a decade. For several years, he practiced law in Frankfort, sharing offices with former Gov. Julian Carroll, another Democratic politician he loved and had worked for. A prolific reader his entire life, Hughes had a knack for picking the perfect books for friends and family, and his library was a favorite family source for the latest history, military, and politics bestsellers, along with a healthy serving of spy thrillers. His favorite place in the world was Hunting Island, S.C., a beautiful barrier island near Beaufort that is maintained as a state park. For years, he enjoyed taking an annual vacation to one of the park’s seafront cabins where he could watch for nesting sea turtles at night, walk the long beach in the day and cook batches of a particularly flavorful Lowcountry favorite called Frogmore Stew. He is survived by his son, Russ, of Seattle and Washington, DC, and his longtime companion, Martha Booth of Frankfort. He is also survived by all three siblings: John of Frankfort, Victoria of Washington, DC, and Stewart of Atlanta. His two nephews and niece are Tom Smith, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Hallie Smith, a senior at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Va., and Peter Walker, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. A second son, Matthew Charles, died soon after birth in 1971. His former spouse, Dr. Lee Adams, resides in Louisville. A memorial service in Durham is planned for the week of Feb. 21. A service in Kentucky will be scheduled for later this year. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in memory of Hughes Walker to the Hospice/Palliative Care General Post Fund. Checks may be written out to the Durham VA Medical Center, forwarded to Voluntary or Chaplain Service with the intent of the donation on the memo line or in a separate note. All donations are acknowledged and donors are provided a receipt for taxes.