Former US Sen. Ernest 'Fritz' Hollings dies at 97

Former US Sen. Ernest 'Fritz' Hollings dies at 97
© Getty

Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, a longtime Democratic senator from South Carolina, died early Saturday at age 97.

"Our father, Fritz Hollings, was dedicated to his family, the United States Senate and the people of South Carolina," his three surviving children told South Carolina newspaper The Post and Courier in a statement. "He was a hero for us and millions of Americans."

Hollings, a World War II veteran, served on Capitol Hill for 38 years and was the eighth-longest-serving senator in U.S. history. He retired from the Senate in 2004 but remained a vocal critic of his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, urging greater fiscal restraint.


As South Carolina governor, Hollings helped guide the state through desegregation, The Associated Press reported. He campaigned against desegregation during his run for governor in 1958 but wrote an anti-lynching law that targeted the Ku Klux Klan, according to The Post and Courier.

He later denounced segregation and, in 2015, asked that his name be removed from Charleston’s federal courthouse so that it would instead honor J. Waties Waring, the judge who orchestrated the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that desegregated the nation's public schools.

Hollings, who ran an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, is also credited with creating the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and writing the National Coastal Zone Management Act.

South Carolina Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottBlood cancer patients deserve equal access to the cure Rand Paul: 'We deserve to know' identity of Trump whistleblower Bottom Line MORE (R) tweeted praise for Hollings following the news of his death. 

"From his time as a [soldier] in World War Two, to shepherding peaceful desegregation as Governor, or fighting for the American worker in the U.S. Senate, Fritz Hollings was a statesman who never lost his love for the Lowcountry, for South Carolina, and for his wife—Peatsy," he wrote. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham throws support behind Trump's Turkey sanctions Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Fury over Trump Syria decision grows MORE (R-S.C.) wrote that his former colleague "could move mountains in the Senate" and praised Hollings for helping him during his time as a junior senator from South Carolina.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) also mourned Hollings on Twitter. 

"One of South Carolina’s greatest lions roars no more. Fierce, bold, and robust – the sounds of Fritz Hollings’ vision and drive for the Palmetto State will continue to be heard by generations," he wrote.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says Trump sanctions package on Turkey 'falls very short' Graham throws support behind Trump's Turkey sanctions Feehery: Trump may be down, but he's not out yet MORE (D-Calif.) mourned Hollings as a "giant of the Senate" and "hero of South Carolina."

"Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Fritz Hollings: a giant of the Senate, a hero of South Carolina and a beloved statesman of great courage and conviction. May it give his loved ones comfort that so many grieve with and pray for them at this sad time," she wrote.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSupport drops for Medicare for All but increases for public option Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE (D) called Hollings a patriot and friend, writing that the former senator helped give him a boost early in his political career.

"Fritz Hollings was a good man. A patriot who fought for this country in uniform and elected office," Biden wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. "A friend who lifted me up when it mattered the most early in my career, and taught, as he's done for generations of South Carolinians, how to live a life of purpose and service. Now rest peacefully, friend, once again with your beloved Peatsy."

Funeral plans were not immediately made public, according to The Post and Courier.