U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who represented Mississippi in Congress for more than 45 years, passed away Thursday in Oxford, Miss.
Cochran, a Navy veteran who eventually served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee, resigned from the Senate in April 2018 due to health concerns.
Statements of praise for Cochran and his work were immediate. They include:
“Thad served with many Senate colleagues during his historic career. All of us benefited from the leadership and example of this schoolteachers’ son from Pontotoc, Mississippi, who rendered 45 years of distinguished service as a legendary legislator, principled leader, and true gentleman.
“Thad will be first remembered as a tireless champion of his fellow Mississippians. He took great pride in keeping promises to the people he represented — ensuring veterans’ access to care, improving educational opportunities, and continuing a record of stellar constituent service for every single Mississippian.
“But the effects of Thad’s advocacy were felt far beyond Mississippi. As Appropriations Chairman, he wielded great influence with abundant grace. His work to improve educational opportunities raised the sights of generations of students. He helped American farmers share their knowledge and expertise with the world. And by following up his own Naval service with a focus on national security policy, particularly missile defense, he left us safer.
“Sen. Cochran also believed deeply in equality and human dignity. He hired the first African-American congressional staffer to work in a Mississippi office since Reconstruction and steadily advocated for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. And on a personal level, Thad’s generous and respectful spirit left a positive impact on everyone who knew him and everyone whom he served.
“The Senate sends our prayers and sympathy to Kay, to Thad’s children Clayton and Kate, and to his grandchildren. And we grieve today with all Mississippians the loss of this distinguished leader.” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
“Chairman Cochran was a gentleman to all who knew and worked with him, but his calm demeanor belied a skilled legislator who represented his state well. I was fortunate to work with him in his role at the Senate Agriculture Committee, where he was a strong advocate for America’s farmers and ranchers as well as those who participate in the farm bill’s nutrition programs.” — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota
“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 contribution in U.S. agriculture policy helped to create a more viable industry for farmers and ranchers across the entire nation, and for that, we are truly grateful.” — Andy Gibson, Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce
“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 Donald Trump via Twitter
“Thad Cochran served Mississippians honorably and extremely effectively. He especially served the citizens of the Delta. He took a special interest in the problems of Delta citizens, working quietly behind the scenes and without fanfare to enact and fund solutions that have improved the delivery of better healthcare, educational opportunities, and living conditions for us. He knew that the economy of the Delta is based on agricultural production and the employment opportunities it provides on the farms and in the supporting infrastructure. He worked to keep our agricultural base vibrant, knowing that without that vibrancy the entire Delta economy would have a diminished future. There are too many specific achievements to begin to list here. We all just say Thank You, Thad.” — Woods Eastland, Delta Council president, 2018-2019
“No one stood taller in supporting agriculture during his 45 years of service in Congress than Thad Cochran. Specifically, he was able to make substantial contributions to agricultural policy and research in Southern crops such as rice, cotton, and aquaculture because he knew their importance to the local economy as well as the nation and the world. He achieved so many positive outcomes, not only because he understood the issues and their importance to the people he represented, but also because he had a personality and gentleman-like manner that allowed him to build coalitions with other Members from other parts of the country.” — Frank Howell, executive vice president of the Delta Council
“Throughout his years of service, Senator Cochran was a strong advocate for rural America, especially U.S. agriculture, and the rice industry will always be totally indebted to his leadership. Above all, Senator Cochran was a kind and loving gentleman who respected everyone and listened to your concerns. He was a person who never sought division but continually sought common ground. Simply, he was a leader in the greatest generation. We will miss his leadership and counsel.” — Travis Satterfield, Mississippi farmer and Delta Council past president
“I had the pleasure of working for Senator Cochran when he was the Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. A statesman and humanitarian, he was truly dedicated to helping people. Senator Cochran worked tirelessly in pursuit of government assistance to improve the lives of not only Mississippians, but also those from all walks of life and anywhere in the world. It only took me a minute to meet him, an hour to appreciate him, and a day to love him, but it will take more than a lifetime to forget him. I am very fortunate to have known him and learned from him, and the rice industry will be forever thankful to have had such a champion for farmers in the U.S. Senate. — Ben Mosely, USA Rice vice president of government affairs
“Senator Cochran was an enduring champion for the rice industry during his tenure, and his advocacy and contributions to the American farmer will be remembered for years to come…. Whether acting as chairman or ranking member of this powerful committee, Cochran always sought sensible solutions to advance the agriculture industry and rural America…. The rice industry owes him a debt of gratitude for championing rice farmers in his home state as well as national agriculture interests.” — USA Rice Federation
“Senator Thad Cochran was not just a champion for Mississippi and the Delta, but he was a tireless advocate for young leaders. His greatest legacy is the countless individuals that he impacted and the lives he touched. More than any appropriation or project he shepherded, the impact of his influence will be felt for generations to come. Without his support, I would not be in the position I am today and for that I am forever grateful. On behalf of the Delta Regional Authority and the Delta region, I offer my thoughts and prayers to Sen. Cochran’s family and friends, former staff, and all who had the pleasure to know him.” — Delta Regional Authority Chairman Chris Caldwell
“Our sincere condolences to the Cochran family as they mourn the loss of this great statesman. His long-lasting, positive impact on Mississippi State University Extension and tomorrow’s leaders will continue to shape our state. He lived the 4-H motto and dedicated his life to making the best better.” — MSU Extension via Instagram
“Senator Cochran was one of the finest, most capable Senators in the history of the state of Mississippi. He was conscious of all the needs of our state, particularly agriculture. He had high ethical standards and a very winsome personality. We shall all miss him.” — Frank Mitchener Jr., Mississippi farmer and Delta Council past president
“Thad will always be remembered as the model United States Senator. We Mississippians were fortunate to have him for as long as we did.” — Billy Percy of Greenville, Delta Council past president
“Senator Cochran was a great American. Senator Cochran was a great friend of the Delta. Senator Cochran was a true statesman.” — Bryan Jones of Yazoo City, Delta Council past president
“Senator Cochran was not only a huge champion for the entire state of Mississippi, but the Mississippi Delta was especially able to feel the impact of his actions. He was always looking for ways to better our area and support the farming community. Not only will he be long remembered as a true statesman; but more importantly his integrity, kindness, ability to work across the aisles, and character will always reflect the true gentleman that he was. There is no doubt that he will be greatly missed.” — Bowen Flowers, Mississippi farmer and Delta Council past president