Politicians, colleagues, admirers and friends attended funeral services Tuesday for South Carolina’s Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, one of the last larger-than-life Democrats who once dominated the politics of the South.
Funeral services for the late Sen. Hollings are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m EST. Watch live in the video player above.
Former Gov. Dick Riley, state Democratic Chairman Trav Robertson and associate Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison were among those gathering ahead of 11 a.m. services at Summerall Chapel at The Citadel in Charleston.
Hollings died earlier this month at 97. The funeral caps off three days of mourning for the former governor and longtime U.S. senator, whose body lay in repose Monday at the state Capitol.
When he retired from the Senate in 2005, Hollings had served 38 years and two months, making him the eighth longest-serving senator in U.S. history.
Speaking at the funeral, Former Vice President Joe Biden credited his longtime Senate desk mate Hollings with making sure he made it to the chamber in the first place.
Biden told a crowd of hundreds that Hollings both encouraged him to run for the Senate and urged him to take his seat following a car crash that killed Biden’s first wife and daughter.
Biden told Hollings’ children that he knows their grief seems insurmountable now, but it will pass.
Gov. Henry McMaster also spoke of the late senator, saying, “the magnificent lion of South Carolina roars no more.”
Speaking through tears, U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn remembered his political mentor as a strong leader who was capable of transformative change on the issue of race.
Clyburn said he was moved when Hollings asked that his own name be taken down from a courthouse, replaced by that of a judge whose dissent led to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling desegregating public schools.
Hollings initially campaigned against desegregation when running for governor in the 1950s. But he evolved on the issue, later advocating for integration. As a South Carolina State University student, Clyburn said he met with the then-governor and knew that Hollings’ attitude on race was changing, although he hadn’t ever shared that thought publicly until now.