Family, friends and former colleagues honor Sen. Ernest Fritz Hollings

Ernest Fritz Hollings

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings was honored Tuesday at The Citadel’s Summerall Chapel.

Hollings, who once served the state as Governor and Senator, passed away April 6th at his home on the Isle of Palms. He was 97-years-old.

It was an emotional ceremony and a true testament to the man Senator Hollings was.

Family members, friends, and former colleagues shared great stories and memories from his life and career. Among them, a longtime friend and former Vice President Joe Biden.

One of the longest-serving U.S. Senators, Hollings spent nearly 40 years in Washington.

This afternoon was spent remembering not only his character but his leadership as well.

“He saw something in me that I wasn’t sure existed, but he believed in me,” Biden recalled.    

Biden, who worked alongside Hollings for nearly three decades, was one of three people who delivered a eulogy at his funeral.

“I had the great honor of sitting next to him for 32 years,” he said. “I learned more about The Citadel than probably some people who went to The Citadel—he talked about it all the time and it was a great honor for his family to ask me to be one of the people to say a few things about him.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster also delivered a message Tuesday. “One of the most memorable moments came when my team hatched the great idea of challenging Fritz to a drug test,” he said. “He instantly responded that he would take a drug test if I would take an IQ test.”

Among them were incredible words from Congressman James Clyburn. “I can only say today thank God, a man can grow. Fritz grew and I grew along with him,” he said.

All who spoke about Fritz said this former governor and U.S. Senator put his state and the needs of the people he served be for himself.

“He was a guy who still had a vision about the future. He wasn’t stuck somewhere incapable of learning. He changed, he changed so South Carolina changed and I think he showed leadership when it was needed,” said former Secretary of State, John Kerry.

As Ernest Fritz Hollings was brought out on one last trip to his final resting place, the hundreds of people he influenced, helped, and taught said his words and lessons will live on.

“He was the epitome of a great 20th century U.S. Senator,” said former South Carolina governor Jim Hodges.

“I think it’s kind of a challenge to me and all of us to do better—to do better with our lives,” said Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg. “He was that kind of a force.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden lost his wife and daughter to a car crash very early in his life when he was just a young U.S. senator. He credits Fritz Hollings with keeping him there, crediting him with the man he has become today.

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