Biden appears for Peatsy Hollings remembrance but makes no public statement
During a vigil Tuesday that drew Vice President Joe Biden, Peatsy Hollings was remembered as a fighter who did all she could to protect public education.
Biden, who opted against making any public statements, arrived at the James A. McAlister funeral home on Savannah Highway shortly after 4 p.m., then met privately with the Hollings family, sharing condolences with his close friend, former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings.
After the first part of the vigil was over, the vice president returned by motorcade to the airport and left town.
It was his second funeral of the day, arriving in Charleston after attending services for former Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. The Charleston trip was an ad-on, not formally announced by the White House.
During their days in Washington, Biden and Hollings were considered extremely close. Their offices were nearby and many credit Hollings for supporting Biden and encouraging him to stay in the Senate after his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident, in 1972.
Traffic around Charleston was briefly held up during Biden’s 5:15 p.m. rush-hour departure but returned to normal shortly afterwards in some of the choke points, including Savannah Highway.
Beyond Biden’s appearance, the service for Rita “Peatsy” Hollings was a low-key gathering ahead of the formal Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. today at Stella Maris Catholic Church, Sullivan’s Island.
Many of those attending Tuesday’s event were former Hollings staffers and local politicians who worked with former Sen. Hollings, including Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and former Statehouse members McKinley Washington and Lucille Whipper.
Former Charleston City Councilman Henry Berlin remembered Peatsy Hollings for her easy-going manner as a senator’s wife.
“She would walk into a room and take it over,” he said, “even more so than Fritz.”
Peatsy Hollings died Sunday at age 76. She and the former senator had been married more than 40 years.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.