WLOX-TV Biloxi
Hundreds come together to honor and remember Senator Thad Cochran

By Hugh Keeton

JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - Senator Thad Cochran’s body is now lying at the Mississippi State Capitol where a crowd of hundreds gathered for funeral services to honor the long term Senator earlier Monday.

Cochran served four decades in the United States Senate. Among those who addressed the crowd during the funeral services was Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Mississippi Speaker of the House, Phillip Gunn.

Governor Bryant described Cochran’s treatment of others through a prayer.

“We thank you oh God for all the ways Senator Cochran made the rest of us want to be better just by being exactly who he was,” he said. "We pray that his clear moral compass, gentle spirit and wide-welcome of all people will so challenge and inspire us that his death will prove to be less the ending of an era than the passing of a torch. "

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves wanted to reassure Cochran’s family they were not alone in their grievance.

“Thad Cochran is arguably the most celebrated servant in the history of our state. It was a tremendous honor for me to be asked to participate in this ceremony today and I want the family to know we grieve with you,” he said.

Family members, public officials and friends wanted to say their final goodbyes and share their own memories with the beloved politician. Coast businessman, Dave Dennis, called Cochran a close friend and said he was the most inclusive political leader of his lifetime.

“I feel certain he will be remembered as a positive leader and brought the state together,” he said.

Dennis credits Cochran for playing a big role in the Coast's recovery after the hurricane.

“He was pivotal not only in the funding, but in conjunction with President Bush, Gov. Barbour, Sen. Lott and Congressman Taylor, the five of them were really the total lifting that made the Coast successful,” he said.

Many people said Cochran stood out to them because of the lessons he taught and the love he had for Mississippi.

“You don’t have to be loud in the room. You just need to work hard, and I think that’s what I’ve learned from Sen. Cochran," said Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. “You go in and do your job, and you treat every single person with respect.”

Senator Cochran was 81 years old. Another funeral service will be held for him Tuesday also in Jackson at North Minister Baptist Church.