On Sunday, the family of storied South Carolina politician Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings received family, friends and former colleagues wishing to pay their respects to the late governor and six-term U.S. senator.
The visitation at James A. McAlister Funerals and Cremation marked the beginning of a three-day mourning period, which will culminate with Hollings’ funeral at the Citadel, his alma mater, where former Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Henry McMaster are speaking. Hollings is revered as one of South Carolina's most influential Democratic national political figures.
The former lawmaker was 97 and died April 6 at his home in Isle of Palms after a period of declining health.
At Sunday’s visitation, hundreds were expected to attend.
Among those in attendance 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.”
Of his friendship with the former South Carolina political force, Rowe recalled Hollings’ competitive streak. The two spent many an early morning in Washington, he said, 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's relationship with Hollings, he said, dates back his entire life. The mayor's father and the former governor were close friends, he added. 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."
On Monday, Hollings' body will lie in repose at the Statehouse. His funeral Tuesday will take place from 11 a.m. to noon at the Citadel's Summerall Chapel followed by a private burial.
The speakers for Sen. Hollings funeral Tuesday at The Citadel are:
Eulogists, former Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Henry McMaster and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
Words of remembrance will come from retired federal judge P. Michael Duffy, former chief of staff Michael J. Capps, friend William T. Cooper, grandson John Reardon, and son Michael M. Hollings.
The presiding clerical official is the Rev. Msgr. Lawrence B. McInerny, J.C.L. , of Stella Maris Catholic Church on Sullivan’s Island.