Robert W. “Bob” Hughes, a former Baltimore County Public Library spokesman who earlier had been press secretary to three county executives, died Nov. 16 — his 68th birthday — from heart failure at Northwest Hospital.
The son of Robert Russell Hughes, founder of Chemspec, a Baltimore company that sold carpet cleaning products, and Mabel Alice Roskow, a homemaker, Robert Williams Hughes was born in Philadelphia and moved to Campus Hills in 1961, and the next year to Lutherville.
He was a 1968 graduate of Loyola High School and attended what is now Loyola University Maryland.
During college summers, he worked with a cousin at the Delaware State News, where he eventually became a reporter. He worked in New York City for the Associated Press in the early 1970s, then returned to Maryland and became a columnist for the Bowie Blade.
While serving in the Navy from 1975 to 1979, he was a congressional liaison in Washington.
“We both started working in Baltimore County government the same day. He was the juvenile justice coordinator and I was the drug abuse coordinator. It was July 1, 1980, and we quickly became best friends,” said Mike Gimbel, who later headed Baltimore County’s substance abuse office.
In the early 1980s the two hosted Hughes & Gimbel Live, a call-in talk show that aired over WCVT-FM, then Towson University’s student-opeated radio station.
“It was one of the early call-in talk shows in the area,” Mr. Gimbel said with a laugh, “and to be on it you had to be politician, sex therapist, famous or a psychic.”
He said Mr. Hughes was a master at grant writing, and wrote millions of dollars’ worth of grants for the Baltimore County Police Department’s youth division.
“Bob was a genius with words, so much so we called him ‘Dr. Words.’ He was so bright and an amazingly talented writer,” he said.
Mr. Hughes served as press secretary to Baltimore County Executive Donald P. Hutchinson from 1978 to 1986, and then for Hutchinson’s successor, Dennis F. Rasmussen, like Mr. Hutchinson a Democrat, from 1986 to 1990.
“Bob brought a great deal of credibility to Hutchinson and Rasmussen,” Mr. Gimbel said. “All the media loved him.”
Mr. Hughes was also Republican County Executive Roger B. Hayden’s press secretary for a year, then left that duty and joined the Baltimore County Public Library in 1995. He served there as spokesman until 2015, when he retired.
The longtime Reisterstown resident collected Beatles and political memorabilia, especially material related to Theodore Roosevelt. He had been an avid Baltimore Colts fan, and followed the Ravens and enjoyed playing poker.
A memorial service for Mr. Hughes will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.
Mr. Hughes is survived by his wife of 36 years, the former Krista McConnell; a son, John Hughes of Baltimore; two brothers, Tom Hughes of Baltimore and Jim Hughes of Seattle; and two grandchildren.
-- Frederick N. Rasmussen