TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Among those killed in the Charleston church massacre was the church’s pastor who was also a state senator. Those roles gave Reverend Clementa Pinckney the chance to meet people from all walks of life.
Many are now sharing his impact. South Florida State College President Tom Leitzel shared a role with News Channel 8’s Holly Bounds in their previous jobs in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Thursday, the two reflected on the senator’s unforgettable warm spirit. “He was always there for us when we needed him,” Leitzel said.
“He always stood up for what the Jasper County schools needed at that time,” Leitzel added. Leitzel worked closely with Pinckney through a yearly essay contest when he was President of the Technical College of the Lowcountry. The contest allowed winning students to serve as senator for a day at the state capitol.
And on state-wide issues, that can sometimes be a little stiff, Leitzel found Pinckney always wanted to make it personal. “Huge handshake,” Leitzel remembered. “He’d give you a hug and welcome you into his senate suite, just an amazing person all around.”