Asheboro, NC -- Former North Carolina State Sen. Russell Walker has died at age 91.
Russell Walker Jr. says his father died Wednesday at Randolph Hospital in Asheboro. The son says Walker had been in declining health and suffered from dementia.
Former Gov. Jim Hunt says Walker was one of the most caring people he ever met in politics.
Walker was a Democrat who served in the Senate from 1975 to 1994. He was the chief Senate sponsor of a bill that helped begin Hunt's Smart Start early childhood program.
Hunt told the Asheboro Courier-Tribune that Walker had a deep concern for people who didn't have much of a chance in life.
The N.C. Zoo issued a statement saying Walker's "unflagging support for the zoo during two decades in the State Legislature is largely responsible for creating the world-class facility that North Carolina citizens take such pride in today."
Walker also was state Democratic Party chairman from 1979 to 1983.
A memorial service will be held Sunday at First Presbyterian Church in Asheboro.