COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Earnest “Fritz” Hollings, a titan of South Carolina and U.S. politics died Saturday morning at the age of 97.
In the words of Governor Henry McMaster, one of the state’s “greatest lions roars no more.”
Hollings is known for helping lead South Carolina through desegregation as governor. He later went on to serve six terms in the U.S Senate.
“In times like these when a giant like Senator Hollings passes away, you really reflect upon what type of leadership he gave to this state and what he did for us as a state as well as a country,” Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Richland said.
Hollings had a long and colorful political career, which included an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984.
He was a Citadel graduate who also served in World War II. After the war, he served in the house of representatives and also became the lieutenant governor.
Hollings then served as governor of South Carolina from 1959 to 1963. As governor, he actively lured business, helped balance the budget for the first time since reconstruction and improved public education.
“He knew that educational opportunities meant economic opportunities," James Smith, former Democratic nominee for governor, said. "And he wanted to make sure that was there for every South Carolinian no matter what zip code they come from and where they are from, that they deserved the very best educational opportunities in our state.”
In November 1966, Fritz Hollings was elected to the U.S Senate where he served for nearly 40 years. He retired in 2005.
Decades spent dedicated to our nation, locals say he will be missed, and his legacy will never be forgotten.
“He’s undoubtedly a significant part of South Carolina’s history and will be for the next several hundred years," Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said.
Hollings served 38 years and two months, making him the eighth longest-serving senator in U.S. history.
“He will be sorely missed, he leads an incredible life, he did a lot for this state,” Bernstein said.