CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Family, friends and former colleagues have paid their respects at a visitation for Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, who helped shepherd South Carolina through desegregation as governor and went on to six terms in the U.S. Senate.
The Post and Courier newspaper reports the family of the longtime politician received visitors Sunday at a Charleston funeral home.
Hollings died April 6 at his home on Isle of Palms. He was 97.
Two more days of mourning are planned for Hollings, one of the last of the larger-than-life Democrats who dominated politics in the South.
His body will lie in repose Monday at the Statehouse in Columbia. A funeral is Tuesday at The Citadel, where former Vice President Joe Biden and current Gov. Henry McMaster are scheduled to be among the speakers.
Among those attending the visitation were Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and Jim Rowe, both longtime friends of Hollings.
“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 38 years and two months in Washington, from November 1966 to January 2005. He was the eighth longest-serving senator in U.S. history but remained the junior senator from South Carolina for most of his term. The senior senator was Strom Thurmond, first elected in 1954. He retired in January 2003 at age 100 as the longest-serving senator in history.