Former Senator Thad Cochran Dies at Age 81

By Mark Jennings | May 30, 2019 | 1:35 PM EDT

Former Senator Thad Cochran (Getty/Justin Sullivan)

Former Republican Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran passed away on May 30, 2019 at the age of 81. Cochran resigned from the Senate in April of 2018 after nearly forty years of service, due to health concerns. He was succeeded by then-state Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith.

In 1978, Cochran was the first Republican to win a statewide election in Mississippi since reconstruction. Having served for more than 39 years, he is the 10th-longest serving senator in American history.

Colleagues referred to Cochran as “Gentleman Thad” and Time magazine gave him the nickname “The Quiet Persuader.” He was also known as “The King of Pork” by some, due to the billions of dollars he secured for his state while serving as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Most notably, Cochran secured $29 billion in federal funding for damages caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Cochran was the valedictorian of his high school, a cheerleader in college and a member of the honor society. He received a JD in law from the University of Mississippi in 1965 shortly after serving three years in the United States Navy. He also worked on Richard Nixon’s Presidential campaign.

“Thad Cochran’s footprints are all around us,” Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss), who served alongside Cochran for 10 years before Cochran’s retirement, said in a press release. “From his career in the Navy through his retirement in 2018, his life was marked by service to this country,” Wicker said.

President Donald Trump paid tribute to Cochran Thursday in a Twitter post, praising the former senator’s “incredible values” and service:

“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!”

 

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