COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — The family of South Carolina State Senator Hugh Leatherman announced he passed away Friday morning.
Senator Leatherman was first elected to the South Carolina Senate in 1980. Leatherman also served as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee for decades.
Before being elected to the Senate, Leatherman began his time in public office with Quinby Town Council from 1967 to 1976. He was Mayor Pro Tempore his last five years on council.
Leatherman graduated from North Carolina State University in 1953.
During his time in the state Senate, many considered Leatherman to be one of the most powerful lawmakers at the State House.
As chairman of Senate Finance, he oversaw the state budget ever year. Leatherman was also elected President Pro Tempore in 2014.
Leatherman sometimes clashed with critics, members of his own party and even Governors. Colleagues widely respected him. They said he championed what he believed in and because of that South Carolina is a better place.
Senate President Harvey Peeler wrote in a statement, “His imprint on the State of South Carolina is firmly fixed, not only in history, but the future as well.”
Senator Leatherman played a role in building up in the state’s business economy. He supported tax incentive packages that helped lures businesses, like Boeing, to South Carolina.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster released this statement after Senator Leatherman’s passing:
“A powerful force for the progress and prosperity of our people has left us. 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.”Gov. Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina)
Leatherman was also influential with making improvements at South Carolina’s ports. A new terminal at the Port of Charleston opened this year was named after him.
The Senator from Florence also sat on a number of oversight boards, like the State Fiscal Accountability Authority and the Joint Bond Review Committee.
Sen. Leatherman died at his home from an inoperable cancer. His family said up until his last days he was active in the Florence community.
Leatherman’s family released a statement Friday morning, in part, they wrote, “Ever the stubborn optimist, he had legislation drafted and received budget briefing for the next legislative session from his hospital bed.”
Leatherman was 90.