COLUMBIA, S.C. – Mourners are paying their respects to Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, the former South Carolina governor and longtime U.S. senator who died earlier this month at 97.
The body of the veteran figure in South Carolina politics lies in repose Monday at the Statehouse in Columbia.
One of the last of the larger-than-life Democrats who dominated politics in the South, Hollings’ long and colorful political career included an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
When he retired from the Senate in 2005 after six terms, Hollings had served 38 years and two months, making him the eighth longest-serving senator in U.S. history.
A funeral is planned Tuesday at The Citadel, where former Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Henry McMaster are scheduled among the speakers.
On Sunday, relatives, friends and former colleagues paid their respects at a Charleston funeral home for Hollings, who helped shepherd South Carolina through desegregation as governor before embarking on his long Senate Career.
Hollings died April 6 at his home on Isle of Palms.
Among those attending Sunday’s funeral home visitation were Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and Jim Rowe, both longtime friends of Hollings, The Post and Courier reported .
“He was one of the smartest senators on the Hill,” said Rowe, who was general counsel on the campaign for Hollings’ 1984 presidential bid. “He accomplished a lot at a very early age.”
Rowe recalled Hollings’ competitive streak, saying the two of them spent many early mornings in Washington playing tennis before the start of their days.
“He was a hell of a competitor,” Rowe said. “He’s everything you would want in a governor or senator, and I’m afraid we don’t have many like him around anymore.”
Tecklenburg said his father and Hollings were close friends. Tecklenburg also credited Hollings as being one of the sources of inspiration that compelled him to run for public office.
“He was a giant in our state,” he said. “And in the history of South Carolina, frankly, I don’t know that there’s been a more effective leader who has done more than Fritz Hollings. Just an amazing man.”
Hollings served in Washington from November 1966 until his January 2005 retirement. And although he was the eighth longest-serving senator in U.S. history, he remained the junior senator from South Carolina for most of his term. The senior senator was Strom Thurmond, first elected in 1954. Thurmond retired in January 2003 at age 100 as the longest-serving senator in history.
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