State Politics

‘One of South Carolina’s greatest lions:’ SC leaders praise Ernest F. ‘Fritz’ Hollings

Former U.S. Sen. Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings has died

Former U.S. Sen. Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings died Saturday, April 6, 2019, at age 97. This video shows Hollings with John F. Kennedy, Robert Mueller, Andy Griffin, Jim Clyburn and others. He was a World War II veteran, governor and U.S. Senator.
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Former U.S. Sen. Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings died Saturday, April 6, 2019, at age 97. This video shows Hollings with John F. Kennedy, Robert Mueller, Andy Griffin, Jim Clyburn and others. He was a World War II veteran, governor and U.S. Senator.

Gov. Henry McMaster called him “one of South Carolina’s greatest lions...”

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said he was a “history-making governor, a titan of the U.S. Senate, and a peerless friend to all who were fortunate enough to know him.”

Praise and condolences have poured in from South Carolina leaders for the late Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, former governor and U.S. Senator.

“Our state and nation have lost a real giant,” Tecklenburg said in a statement.

All his life Tecklenburg knew Hollings. Tecklenburg’s grandfather helped Hollings with his first State House race in 1948 and his father worked on later campaigns for the former Senator. Hollings asked Tecklenburg to help with his final Senate race in 1998, the Charleston Mayor said.

“I was happy to carry on that family tradition,” Tecklenburg said. “As I’ve said before, Fritz made so much history over so many years, it took three generations of Tecklenburgs to support just one generation of Hollings.”

Hollings welcomed Lindsey Graham to the Senate when he came to Washington D.C. in 2003 and helped him get established, the sitting Senator said.

“With his passing, South Carolina has lost one of her greatest champions and most effective political leaders,” Graham said, recalling that Hollings “was often called the ‘senator from central casting.’”

“When it came to South Carolina, Fritz could move mountains in the Senate and was a thought leader in the areas of commerce, appropriations, and defense. ... And until his dying day, Fritz Hollings was always advocating and urging for policies that would make our country strong. “

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn said Hollings’ “brand of legislating is truly missed in the halls of the Capitol today.”

“He was a man with courage and conviction, who began his career protecting the status quo but changed as he learned and grew. ... Known for disarming his fiercest critics with his sharp wit and strong intellect, he was an effective leader who sought allies of either party who were willing to help to advance his agenda. “

Former governor and more recently the last U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley commended Hollings military service and how he “tirelessly supported our men and women in uniform.”

“Today we celebrate a life well lived,” Haley said.

Many remembered Hollings as the governor who saw South Carolina through desegregation and formed the state’s technical school system.

Another former Governor David Beasley said, “Business leaders all over the world know of South Carolina’s technical colleges, and that would not be the case if it weren’t for Fritz Hollings, who helped create them.”

The former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party and current associate chair of Democratic National Committee, Jaime Harrison recalled that his first internship in Washington was given to him by Hollings.

“I’m saddened by the passing of a giant of South Carolina,” Harrison said. “Fritz Hollings defined what it meant to be a statesman. He didn’t just help write the history of South Carolina. He set us up for the future. From our technical school systems to the (Women, Infants, and Children nutrition) program nationally, Senator Hollings has left a lasting legacy. ... I will miss his wit, intellect and his sharp tongue. The nation will miss the great Fritz Hollings. So many of us stood up on his shoulders. I hope to continue his legacy.”

Former Vice President and speculative presidential candidate Joe Biden called Hollings “a friend who lifted me up when it matter the most early in my career.”

Hollings “taught, as he’s done for generations of South Carolinians, how to live a life of purpose and service,” Biden said.

Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina’s 1st District said Hollings was the “most transformational leader our state has ever seen.”

“From his service as a soldier in World War II, a state legislator, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, and U.S. Senator, Fritz Hollings was a true statesman who exemplified character, courage, integrity, and honor,” Cunningham said. “We are all better off because of his life and service to our nation, state and the Lowcountry. Amanda (Cunningham’s wife) and I send our sincerest condolences to the Hollings family and all who knew him. It is a blessing to know he and his beloved Peatsy are finally together again, forever.”

Others remembered Hollings not only for his love of South Carolina but also his love of Peatsy.

“From his time as a solider in World War Two, to shepherding peaceful desegregation as Governor, or fighting for the American worker in the United States Senate, Fritz Hollings was a statesman who never lost his love for the Lowcountry, for South Carolina, and for his wife—Peatsy,” Sen. Tim Scott said. “I join the people of South Carolina in praying for the Hollings Family as we celebrate his lifetime of public service.”

Having known Hollings all his life, Tecklenburg said he wasn’t thinking the most about the South Carolina governor or the United States Congressman, but Hollings as a husband.

“He was also the leading man in one of the great romances of our age,” Tecklenburg said.

“For more than forty years, Fritz and Peatsy Hollings loved each other completely and without reservation. Separately, they were smart and funny and formidable; together, they were magic. And when it became clear that Peatsy would be the first to move from this world to the next, Fritz responded with a manner and measure of tenderness that surprised even those who knew him best, and that none who witnessed it will ever forget.”

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.