Remembering Peatsy Hollings, 1935-2012

Rita Louise Liddy “Peatsy” Hollings passed away on Sunday, October 14, 2012.  She had suffered  for years from the progressive effects of Alzheimers.  Peatsy was a remarkable woman in many ways and I got to know her well through my association with her husband, Senator “Fritz” Hollings.

Peatsy was a school teacher when they met during his 1966 campaign for the U.S. Senate, and he frequently tells people that he became her perpetual student during the course of their 41 year marriage.   They were inseparable and she acted as an advisor and confidant.

A favorite photo showing Sen. and Mrs. Hollings waving to President and Mrs. Clinton in their limousine en route to the Inaugural Parade.

She had great people skills.  My favorite memory of Peatsy is from a rally in the early 1990s on the USC campus.  The Senator was addressing a crowd on the Russell House patio and a heckler was shouting at him about Hollings’ involvement with the Parents’ Music Resource Center, an organization concerned with violence and obscenity in popular music.   The heckler was loud and it was difficult for the Senator to continue.  Peatsy walked over immediately, took the heckler by the arm, and began to speak to him and draw him towards the edge of the crowd, explaining that she and Tipper Gore were behind the movement and that his argument was with her, not with her husband.  The Senator resumed his talk to the crowd and throughout the rest of the address, the heckler remained silent, while Peatsy continued to speak with him.  Rather than further disrupting the rally, the heckler ended up totally under the spell of the eloquent and elegant Peatsy Hollings.

Another favorite photo showing Sen. and Mrs. Hollings touring an exhibit on presidential politics at McKissick Museum. Also in the picture, from left, are Bud Ferillo, Lynn Robertson, and myself.

The Senator has been inspirational in his devotion to Peatsy throughout her decline over the course of the last eight or so years.  I want to say that we will miss her, but in truth, Alzheimers took her from us some time ago.  Peatsy Hollings is dearly missed by all who knew and loved her.

Please stop by the Hollings Library to see an exhibit mounted in her honor.

-Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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