Walter Baker, a former state lawmaker and former Kentucky Supreme Court justice who died Monday at age 73, was admired by public officials across the political spectrum.
Republican Senate President David Williams described his former colleague as a "scholarly and genteel man" and a "happy warrior for the causes he believed in."
Democratic Rep. Jody Richards, a former House speaker who often sparred with Williams over issues great and small, called Mr. Baker a "man of principle and one of my dear friends."
One reason Mr. Baker had friends on both sides of the aisle was that he was a product of an era when politicians such as his fellow Republican, U.S. Sen. John Sherman Cooper, reached across the aisle in a spirit of compromise and cooperation on a regular basis.
But the more important reason people of all political persuasions liked and respected Mr. Baker was that he simply was one of the nicest people they could ever meet — always cordial, always courteous, always honorable.
He was also a dedicated public servant who served in the state House and Senate, on the Supreme Court, as an assistant general counsel in the U.S. Department of Defense, as a judge advocate with the Kentucky Air National Guard and on the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
"If he had a choice between practicing law and getting paid for it or doing something for the community and not getting paid, he would always do something for the community," Barren County Judge-Executive Phil Patton told The Courier-Journal. "Walter was a prince."
A prince devoted to service. And to being nice.