U.S. Senator Thad Cochran passes away
OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI) – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who represented Mississippi in Congress for more than 45 years, passed away early Thursday morning in Oxford.
Cochran resigned from the Senate in April 2018 due to health concerns.
Before that, he served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee.
In a statement, Cochran’s family extends its gratitude for the support shown to the Senator by Mississippians over the years.
Services are pending.
Cochran was 81 years old.
Several Mississippi leaders have since released statements regarding Cochran’s passing. Read them below.
Governor Phil Bryant:
“Mississippi and our nation have lost a true statesman in Thad Cochran. He was a legend in the United States Senate where he worked tirelessly to move his state and country forward. He was one of our longest serving senators, and his influence can be felt in every corner of Mississippi. Whether it was fighting for resources during the dark days following Hurricane Katrina on the Coast or being a zealous advocate for farmers in the Delta, he dedicated himself to serving all Mississippians. The Quiet Persuader dominated Mississippi politics for nearly half a century, and he did so by being a gentleman. Senator Cochran has left a legacy of public service that should serve as an inspiration for all Americans. I am requesting that flags be flown at half-staff in Mississippi. Deborah and I are praying for the Cochran family during this difficult time.”
Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves:
“Senator Thad Cochran is a giant in our state and in our country—a statesman through and through. Anyone who had the privilege of spending time with him knows that his wit and wisdom were unmatched. Elee and I are praying for Kay and the entire Cochran family today. He is at the same time a legend and a truly decent, good man—rare in our line of work. Void of ego and full of life, with friends in every corner of our state. He will always be remembered and sorely missed.”
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker
“Thad Cochran was a giant in the United States Senate and one of the greatest champions Mississippi has ever known. He was also a dear personal friend for decades. My wife, Gayle, and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Cochran family at this time. When Thad Cochran left the Senate, I was reminded of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote, “Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, and departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time. Thad Cochran’s footprints are all around us. From his career in the Navy through his retirement in 2018, his life was marked by service to this country. The American economy is experiencing historic growth today in no small part because of the foundations laid by Thad Cochran. Our nation’s military is stronger, groundbreaking federal research continues to advance, our citizens are healthier, and rural and agricultural communities from the Mississippi Delta all across this country are more vibrant. I am grateful and honored to have known him, learned from him, and been his friend. America is a better country because of Thad Cochran.”
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith:
“Mississippi has suffered a tremendous loss today. Senator Thad Cochran was an incredible leader and a most respected member of the United States Senate. My colleagues who served with him consistently speak of him with such high regard. So many have said to me that he was truly their favorite Senator and friend. He treated everyone with distinction, and had a caring and concerned heart for his constituents and the state he so dearly loved. Mississippi is a better place because of his leadership that was guided by wisdom and faith. One of my most cherished moments, which I will hold in my heart forever, is playing God Bless America on the piano while he sang it in his Senate office on his last day there. My husband Michael and I send our deepest sympathy to his family at this time.”
Congressmen Michael Guest:
“I am saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Thad Cochran. He devoted his life to serving his state and nation and set the standard of public service that we can all strive towards. He will be remembered for his dedication to the people of Mississippi, and his legacy as a statesman will provide a model of service for our future leaders to follow. While serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Senator Cochran was a champion for Mississippi. He worked tirelessly for farmers and to promote rural development. He helped strengthen our Armed Forces as Chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and he spearheaded the effort to appropriate much-needed federal assistance to the Mississippi Coast to address the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mississippi benefited greatly from Senator Cochran’s leadership as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and his legislative abilities. We will continue to enjoy the benefits of his tenure for generations to come. My prayers are with his family during this difficult time and my thoughts are with our entire state as we remember the life of a great Mississippian.”
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum:
“I was blessed to have the honor of working with Senator Cochran for nearly 18 years in Washington, DC, including 10 years as his chief of staff. I am grateful for our time together and for his service to our state and nation. He was truly a statesman and a man of the highest integrity. He provided extraordinary leadership and walked with giants, yet remained humble and true to his Mississippi roots. Senator Cochran had a tremendous influence on my life. He taught me how to respect people, how to listen, how to make decisions based on facts and then to move forward. My wife Rhonda and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family during this difficult time.”
Speaker Phillip Gunn:
“Sen. Cochran was a true statesman and served our state with class and distinction,” said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn. “Lisa and I express our condolences to his family and pray for their comfort during this time of loss.”
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann:
“One of Mississippi’s greatest public servants passed today. His life’s work is imprinted on each of us through his leadership in education, agriculture, hurricane relief, and his calm approach to the major issues impacting our State and our Country.”
Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney:
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Senator Thad Cochran. I have the upmost respect for the Senator who represented Mississippi so well. He was a true statesman and a personal friend whom I knew and supported throughout his political career. His passing is the end of an era as Thad set an example for those who have followed him.”
Commissioner of Higher Education Alfred Rankins, Jr.
“The passing of Senator Thad Cochran is a great loss to our state and our nation. He was a statesman, a gentleman, and a servant leader. He understood the importance of higher education and was a staunch supporter of the university system in his home state. We are forever grateful for this support, which has left an indelible imprint on our universities, the academic experiences our students enjoy, and the research capabilities that seek to improve the lives of Mississippians on many fronts. This is just one of the many legacies of Senator Cochran’s service that will impact generations to come. We extend our sympathies to the Cochran family. He will be greatly missed.”
Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson:
“I am saddened to learn of the passing of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran. A true statesman, Senator Cochran exemplified the qualities of a steadfast leader with a true servant’s heart. He fought not only for Mississippians, but for all Americans. His lasting contributions in U.S. agriculture policy helped to create a more viable agriculture industry for farmers and ranchers across the entire nation, and for that, we are truly grateful. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”