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Former Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran Passes Away At 81

“Cochran’s family extends its gratitude for the support shown to the Senator by Mississippians over the years."

 Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is interviewed by CQ Roll Call in his Dirksen Building office, January 14, 2015.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Former Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) passed away Thursday morning. His Senate successor, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), announced Cochran's passing in a statement.

 

“Cochran’s family extends its gratitude for the support shown to the Senator by Mississippians over the years,” the statement said.

The office added that he “passed away peacefully” in Oxford, Mississippi. Plans for funeral services are reportedly pending.

Cochran graduated from Ole Miss in 1959 and enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He also attended law school at the University of Mississippi and went on to teach military law and naval orientation at the Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island.

Cochran served as the executive director of Mississippi Citizens for Nixon-Agnew in 1968 and was first elected as a U.S. congressmen in Mississippi's fourth congressional district in 1972.

He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for three terms before winning his 1978 election to the U.S. Senate. He was the first Republican to win a statewide election in Mississippi in over a century.

In his last days in the Senate, Cochran had stints as chairman of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Cochran resigned from the U.S. Senate on April 1, 2018 due to health problems, after having served for 40 years. According to WDAM7, in 2017 Cochran was the tenth longest-serving senator in U.S. history.

In his farewell address to the Senate, he said he would not miss politics but would miss his colleagues. He encouraged them to visit him.

“I will now return to my beloved Mississippi and my family and friends there. I will miss this stately Chamber and this city. I will not miss this power or politics. I will miss people: you, my colleagues. I will treasure your courtesy and kindness. I trust, if your travels bring you to Oxford, MS, you will not hesitate to visit and join me for a refreshment on the porch. We can listen to the mockingbirds together.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee Twitter account gave its condolences with an accompanying picture of Cochran and President Ronald Reagan.

 

“Our thoughts go out to Senator Thad Cochran’s friends and family. He was a true patriot and champion for Mississippi values. May he rest in peace.”

His alma mater, Ole Miss, also tweeted out its condolences for Cochran.

“The Ole Miss Family has lost a legend with the passing of a great Mississippian and UM alumnus in former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran,” the university tweeted. “His unwavering service and contributions to the university and the state are part of the lasting legacy he leaves behind.”

Rep. Bennie Gordon Thompson (D-MS) praised Cochran and said his talents “will be missed by all Mississippians.”

“I would like to offer my condolences to the family of former U.S. Senator Thad Cochran,” Thompson tweeted. “He was an excellent public servant who understood the necessity of diversity and inclusion. Cochran’s talents will be missed by all Mississippians.”

 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said she was sad to hear of Cochran’s passing, but praised him for working with her on the 2014 farm bill.

“Very sad to hear of the passing of my dear friend, former Senator Thad Cochran,” Stabenow tweeted. “We were partners on the Agriculture Committee and worked to pass a historic, bipartisan Farm Bill in 2014. We are grateful for his service and he will be missed.”

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