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Hollings is textbook example of dutiful public servant
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report



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AUG. 5, 2003 - - Eight or nine years ago, Fritz Hollings told me why he kept at it year after year as politics increasingly became more partisan, bitter and personal.

The short answer was because it was his duty.

That year like every, he made sure he visited each of the state's 46 counties to check in with people, see what they needed and talk about what was happening.

On this particular day in the mid-1990s, we were rolling along in Abbeville County and heading, as I recall, to McCormick County. As often was the case in these county visits, I, as his press secretary, drove. Most of the time, I'd pepper him with questions and get the senator's unique perspective on the state's history, issues, politics, people - - just about anything and everything under the sun.

On this day, I asked, "Senator, why do you keep doing this - - keep running and serving?"

At this time, he was in his early 70s. He looked at me, reflected and answered:

"When I was a lawyer, I was pretty good at helping people. My wife, Peatsy, helped a lot of students when she was a teacher. If I had been a doctor, I would have helped people too.

"But in politics, I can do more for more people than I ever could have as a lawyer, a teacher or a doctor."

And he did. Because of Fritz Hollings and his devotion to duty and public service, hundreds of thousands of people in South Carolina are far better off,

Just look at a quick laundry list of what he's done in his 55 years of public service: Father of South Carolina's technical education system and S.C. educational television; a national leader in fighting to reduce the federal budget deficit and debt; a trade hawk who fights for American workers and to boost American competitiveness; author of landmark environmental legislation to protect our coasts and to ward off ocean dumping; a major proponent of telecommunications reform efforts; a national advocate of medical research and a key leader in the establishment of the federal maternal nutrition program.

In other words, thanks to Hollings, you are, among other things, able to get a quality technical college education, watch public television, swim in oceans that are protected, get low-cost phone service and enjoy the benefits of the world's best medical research. His fights to keep and grow jobs in South Carolina are why many are employed today. For example, thousands have jobs today in the Upstate thanks to business recruiting and infrastructure investment Hollings started as governor from 1959-1963.

Any other person would consider his or her career to be hugely successful with just two or three of the above accomplishments on a resume. But for Fritz Hollings, there was always another challenge, always another person to help.

Most people probably don't know much about this Fritz Hollings. They're more familiar with the senior statesman with the sharp, sometimes acerbic tongue who values performance over promise. They're used to the quick-witted, white-haired gentleman who could be out of central casting for a Southern politician.

But it's this Fritz Hollings - - the decorated war veteran and Citadel graduate - - who still gets up every morning and puts on shoes to help people because he believes it's his duty and obligation for being able to live the American dream.

You might not agree with everything Fritz Hollings has done in his long career, but you've got to agree he has honored us with his service. For that, all South Carolinians should be - - and are - - grateful. And I, like many, will miss having him be my voice in Washington.

NOTE: Andy Brack, editor and publisher of S.C. Statehouse Report, served as press secretary to Sen. Hollings from 1992 to 1996.

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