I just read about Bob Hensley’s death this morning. Bob, who represented Raleigh and Wake County in the legislature for 12 years, was a battler who was never afraid to stand up for progressive causes, but who also never forgot to smile while he was at it. He was smart, funny and always fun to be around.

Bob was part of the “Gang of Eight” in the House the last time (in 2001) that the state faced anything like this year’s enormous budget deficit. The “Gang” (a press term that he didn’t much appreciate) was a progressive group of Democrats who dug in on principle against the likes of former Speaker Jim Black, now in the federal slammer for corruption. They dug in and won some concessions, it should be added.

Six of the eight Democrats were members of the black caucus. Bob, one of the two whites, may be remembered as an honorary member.