South Carolina officials mourn the death of Sen. Hugh Leatherman

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina officials are mourning the loss of Senator Hugh Leatherman after he died Friday morning at the age of 90.

Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said he and the entire Senate Majority Caucus are sending their respects to Leatherman’s family.

“With four decades of service in the South Carolina State Senate, Senator Leatherman – better known to many as Mr. Chairman – will have a long legacy marked in every corner of the state and mirrored through the Senate chambers for decades to come,” Massey said. “His warm smile, commitment to community, never-stop work ethic, and resolute focus will forever be remembered.”

The South Carolina Republican Party also responded, saying they are grateful for his decades of service.

“Senator Leatherman dedicated almost half of his life to serving the people of Florence County and South Carolina,” SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick said. “His commitment to the Port and so many other initiatives propelled our state forward. We’re grateful for his decades of service, and our prayers are with Mrs. Jean and the rest of the Leatherman family.”

Governor Henry McMaster said in a statement that Leatherman will be missed and gave a majority of his life serving the state.

“A powerful force for the progress and prosperity of our people has left us,” McMaster said. “For over fifty years, Hugh Leatherman poured his life into our state and we are the better for it. He loved his work and kept his word. He never quit. We will miss him. May God bless him and his family.” 

Sen. Lindsey Graham called Leatherman a “giant in the South Carolina Senate” and a “legend.”

“When it came to the needs of South Carolina — from the mountains to the sea and everywhere in between — he was always at the forefront of breakthrough change,” Graham said in a statement. “He had a statewide perspective that served South Carolina well. His leadership was indispensable in recruiting Boeing to South Carolina, and he was a great champion of the Port of Charleston.”

Graham’s statement continues to state that Leatherman was “the most effective voice for his region of the state one could have ever imagined. He was a tireless advocate always focused on building for a stronger and better future.”

Former Congressman and Democratic candidate for governor Joe Cunningham released a statement expressing his sympathies for Leatherman’s family.

“Today, South Carolina lost a giant,” Cunningham said. “Senator Leatherman spent his entire adult life fighting for our state and the people of Florence County and we are all better off because of his service. Few people have had a more positive impact on South Carolina than Hugh Leatherman. He was more than just an ambassador for the Palmetto State; he lived the values that everyone in public service should strive to uphold: compromise, bipartisanship, and putting people over politics.

“My deepest sympathies are with the entire Leatherman family, his Senate colleagues, and the people of Florence County. May his remarkable legacy live on forever.” 

State Senator Kent Williams remembered his colleague and friend of 17 years.

“We will miss him as a leader. As my Chairman of Senate Finance. I took pride in addressing him as Mr. Chairman. Going to his office, needing his help. Whether it’s an issue, whether it’s to fill a financial void in my district or to fund something. He always made time,” Williams said. “Senator Leatherman touched lives. He was a statesman. Even though he was a Senator from Florence, he was a Senator for the State of South Carolina.”

State Senator Luke Rankin shared his earliest memory of Leatherman.

“When I was an undergrad student at Carolina, Senator Leatherman wrote me congratulating me on making the Dean’s List. I didn’t know who Senator Leatherman was. I was from Conway. He was from Florence. We are indebted to his leadership, his patience, his hope and his fight for South Carolina.”

Florence Mayor Teresa Meyers Ervin said she was saddened by the loss of Senator Leatherman.

“I respected his leadership, especially how he placed Florence on the map and positioned us for success,” Meyers Ervin said. “Personally, I will always cherish our many conversations, professionally and personally. The one that I will be forever grateful was when I won the office of mayor.  Soon after, he sat with me to give me excellent advice, as well as said he was looking forward to helping and working with me and was only a phone call away.  He will be missed.  My prayers are with his family during this time.”

South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Trav Robertson, Jr. also released a statement on the death of Leatherman saying:

“There has been a renaissance in Florence County thanks to Senator Leatherman’s dedication to his constituents and the Pee Dee. Together with business leaders, Democrats, Republicans, and civic leaders, Senator Leatherman helped reshape downtown Florence and transformed Francis Marion University into a top-notch educational institution. Senator Leatherman always surrounded himself with smart people who, like himself, had the best interest of our state at heart. He led with a quiet voice and strong will. Our hearts go out to Senator Leatherman’s friends and family during this time. South Carolina is a better place because of his decades of leadership.”

Rep. Tom Rice said in a statement that he respected Leatherman’s “impeccable record of delivering results.”

“Senator Leatherman was the epitome of a public servant and will be dearly missed in the halls of the South Carolina statehouse,” he said.

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