(FOX Carolina) The state of South Carolina is grieving with the loss of one of its most influential leaders - Senator Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings. 

A family spokesperson announced that the former senator passed away in the early hours of April 6, 2019. He was 97. 

Hollings' long life was filled with military experience, political activism, and championing for his beloved home state.

In his 38 years and two months spent serving the people of South Carolina, Hollings led the way to a peaceful desegregation, lobbied for military dollars, invested time into public education, and spent time working with Women, Infants and Children. 

Politicians from around the state have reacted to Hollings' death. 

Rep. Joe Cunningham is among a few South Carolina lawmakers who took to Twitter to give his condolences. 

Sen. Tim Scott also released a statement on Hollings' passing on social media.

South Carolina Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler says Hollings was a dear friend of hers:

I am deeply saddened this morning to hear of the passing of US Senator Fritz Hollings— a great man, dedicated public servant, and dear friend of mine. His passion for helping others and commitment to South Carolina will be the foundation of his legacy.

Senator Hollings was a force to be reckoned with in Washington, stuck true to his convictions no matter the consequences, and never stopped fighting to make the world a better place. From his fiery presence on the floor of the US Senate, to his days spent talking with fellow South Carolinians on the beaches of the Lowcountry, there was never any doubt that Senator Hollings loved what he did.

South Carolina has lost a true statesman, and I hope you will all join me in praying for the Hollings family during this time. Thank you for your life of service, Senator. You are missed.

Governor Henry McMaster's words of passion and respect were also very moving. 

"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. The greatness and success of this state has benefited from the hand of his leadership. Peggy and I are heartened at his reunion with Peatsy and offer our prayers and condolences to the family."

Later Saturday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said South Carolina "has lost one of her greatest champions and most effective political leaders." 

Graham's full statement on Hollings' passing is below: 

“By any measure Senator Hollings led one of the most incredible and consequential lives of any member of the Greatest Generation. Like so many Citadel graduates, he served in combat in World War II and was willing to die for his country. With his passing, South Carolina has lost one of her greatest champions and most effective political leaders. Fritz was a giant of a man who was often called the ‘senator from central casting.' He was the father of South Carolina’s technical school system, which is the envy of the nation. He led our state through the travails of the civil rights movement with dignity and went on to become one of the most effective senators to ever serve. When it came to South Carolina, Fritz could move mountains in the Senate and was a thought leader in the areas of commerce, appropriations, and defense. As the junior senator from South Carolina, he welcomed me to the Senate and helped me get established. And until his dying day, Fritz Hollings was always advocating and urging for policies that would make our country strong. When it comes to Senator Hollings, they broke the mold.”


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