Sen. Ernest Hollings

Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., said at City University Graduate Center on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 1983 in New York that if he were President, he would develop a “good neighbor” policy toward Latin America and build up a middle class there by encouraging entrepreneurship through trade. The Democratic presidential candidate accuses the Reagan administration of giving up on Latin America economically and looking for a military quick fix. (AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett)

CHARLESTON, SC (FOX Carolina) - One week since his passing, friends and family gathered together at a funeral home in Charleston to remember longtime senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings.

Today, friends visited family, and when they described him to FOX Carolina, words like "fighter", "leader", and "intelligent" came up often.

Nadine Grant, who was Hollings' night-sitter, also said he maintained his health.

"Always has a sharp mind, and always tried his best to keep himself in shape," she said. "He has a bike that's in the bedroom."

Jim Rowe, a friend of the longtime politician, gave praise to Hollings for helping guide South Carolina through the period of racial integration.

“He accomplished a lot at a very early age... being the governor of South Carolina and getting the state to come to grips with integration," Rowe reminisced. "On his last speech as governor he told the state not to run away from it but to lead it.”

Hollings was also known for staying connected with people. Ralph Everett, who worked with him for 18 years, says the deep connections make losing him even at such an advanced age uniquely heartbreaking.

“I would speak to Senator Hollings about once a month," said Everett. "So we stayed in constant contact, and even though he was 97 years old it is still a shock to my my system that he no longer with us.”

While he was without a doubt a southern Democrat, Hollings was never opposed to reaching across the aisle. But more notable, those who knew him say he thought of South Carolinians first. He also is known in the state for his work on the South Carolina Technical College System and focusing the state's budget.

“Even though he might have been a member of a political party he always had in his mind, I felt, the citizens of our state," said Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg.

“This is a giant of a man, a great man. I’m just sad today that South Carolina lost a giant.”

Copyright 2019 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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