Former South Carolina Sen. Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, who is credited with leading the state through desegregation as governor, died early Saturday morning at 97 years old, the Associated Press reports. A family spokesman confirmed Hollings death. A stalwart among southern Democrats, Hollings went on serve six terms in the senate before retiring in 2005, and remains one of the longest serving senators in U.S. history. He briefly made a run for Democratic nomination for president in 1984. Hollings originally campaigned against desegregation in his first bid for governor in 1958, but would later ask the state legislature to embrace integrating public schools and admitting the first black student to Clemson University.