Former Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran died on Thursday at the age of 81 after a lengthy illness.  He was first elected to the Senate in 1978, becoming the first Republican in more than 100 years to win a statewide election in Mississippi. 

“Senator Cochran will be remembered for his principles, his dedication to Mississippians and to the food and agriculture sector,” said NCC President Mike Brown. “He always provided steady leadership in the Senate through very difficult issues impacting agriculture both here domestically and around the world. On behalf of NCC, our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Prior to joining the Senate, Cochran served three terms in the House of Representative. He died on Thursday at 81 after a lengthy illness.Cochran, a Navy veteran, rose through the ranks of the Senate to chair both the appropriations and agriculture committees.  Cochran resigned from the Senate in April 2018, citing health reasons.  At the time of his retirement,  Cochran said, “it has been a great honor to serve the people of Mississippi and our country.  I’ve done my best to make decisions in the best interest of our nation, and my beloved state.  My top concern has always been my constituents in Mississippi.” Cochran was known to take positions that crossed the aisle.

“Very sad to hear the news on the passing of my friend, Senator Thad Cochran.  He was a real Senator with incredible values-even flew back to Senate from Mississippi for important Healthcare vote when he was desperately ill.  Thad never let our country or me down,”  President Trump said in a tweet yesterday.

“As Appropriations Chairman, he wielded great influence with abundant grace,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement yesterday.  Cochran, he said “took great pride in keeping promises to the people he represented, ensuring veterans’ access to health care, introducing educational opportunities and continuing a record of stellar constitute service for every single Mississippian.”

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said “When I became a member of the Senate, Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran was who I watched. He taught me and so many others a great deal about effective service in the U.S. Senate.  My prayers are with his family.”

Cochran is survived by his wife, the former Kay Bowen Webber, one brother, Nielsen Harris Cochran of Jackson, two children, Thaddeus Clayton Cochran of New Albany and Katherine Holmes Cochran of Hattiesburg, and three grandchildren.

Services are planned for Oxford and Jackson for Senator Cochran.  A visitation will be  held on Sunday at the University of Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Robert C. Khayat Law center in Oxford.  A funeral service will be held on Monday at the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson.