The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Tribute to the late Doug Sullivan, senior aide to Sen. Thad Cochran

Posted on January 20, 2008 at 06:16 PM


We would like to dedicate our annual conference on Jan. 30-31, 2008 to the memory of the late Doug Sullivan, a senior aide to Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) and a great champion for the Delta region. Doug Sullivan’s dedication in working for progress in the Mississippi Delta epitomizes the kind of leadership we should all praise, and he was a great role model for our region.

We all remember what a great job Doug Sullivan did in speaking at the last annual conference of the Delta Grassroots Caucus in 2007. He was on a panel together with a senior aide to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, and I remember thinking how much better off we would all be if all Democrats and Republicans could work together like that for the good of our region and America. Doug spoke about how Sen. Cochran and Sen. Lincoln had worked together in supporting the Delta Regional Authority and many other initiatives for the economic development of the Delta.

I will never forget another experience I had with Doug at a small meeting in February, 2007 in Itta Bena, Mississippi. There were only 25 or 30 people there, but Doug took the time to come over from Jackson to be supportive. This was just one of the many smaller meetings we have around the region to recruit more participants and interest in promoting the Delta’s economic development.

At this particular meeting, I encountered a few people who were very skeptical about the whole notion of working in a regional, grassroots coalition to promote economic development in the Delta. Their attitude was that the Delta always has been poor and still is, and they were pressing me to come up with just one thing that was permanent that has come of all these efforts to bring about a brighter economic future. And they had a point, in one sense, because we know that many politicians over the decades have talked a good game about the Delta but not backed it up with action.

I mentioned several new initiatives and some progress, but since they had pressed me to just name one thing permanent that had emerged in recent years, the DRA came to mind. The creation of the Delta Regional Authority is certainly not the only new promising development, but it certainly is a good example of something that exists now that is constructive and did not exist eight years ago. At that point, Doug Sullivan joined the conversation to say in a very down-to-earth, but also confident and strong way that the DRA was in fact permanent, that it was doing a good job for the people of the region in spite of a very small budget, and most of all that it in fact is permanent, because it has the backing of many influential Members of Congress from both parties, with Sen. Cochran being one of the most prominent ones.

I can tell you that Doug’s support at that point saved the day for that meeting, coming from a senior aide to Sen. Cochran, a powerful member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. We all know that the DRA budget suffered some very disappointing budget cuts several years back and at one point the budget fell all the way to $5 million. We have all worked together to get the funding in the energy and water bill up to about $12 million, with an additional $3 million through USDA Rural Development and another $8 to $10 million in additional transportation projects that would not be there if the DRA did not exist. This improvement in the DRA’s fortunes would not have happened without the support of Sen. Cochran and several other key friends in Congress, and what Doug said that day was absolutely right on target.

This anecdote is just one recollection of one small meeting, but Doug’s strong support was a great example of the way he worked for the good of our region in big ways and small ways for many decades. We made some new contacts and earned some new friends in the very fine community of Itta Bena that day.

Doug had a great list of achievements in his long career, and we provide a short biography below in this email. Just to mention a few, he was the office director for Sen. Cochran for nine years based in Jackson, Mississippi, and earlier he was Mayor of Brookhaven, Mississippi, a successful businessman, teacher and coach at Grenada, Noxapater, Eupora and Brookhaven high schools. He was a Retired Colonel of the Mississippi Army National Guard, commander of the Brookhaven detachment of the 155th Infantry Battalion, company commander in Louisville, Kocsciusko, and at the Guard’s state headquarters in Jackson.

Doug was a 1959 graduate of Delta State University, served as class president for three years, was listed in Who’s Who in America’s Colleges and Universities, and was inducted into the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame and received the Distinguished Statesman Award. He was a very active member of many civic organizations. At the time of his death last year he was serving as chairman of both the First United Methodist Church and the Brookhaven District Pastor-Parish Relations committees and a member of the board of the Mississippi Methodist Senior Services.

We just wanted to pay tribute to the late Doug Sullivan, a great role model and a true champion for the state of Mississippi and the entire Delta region. Lee Powell, executive director, MDGC (202) 360-6347


Native of Louisville, MS., 1955 graduate of Louisville High School, class president for three years, class favorite, lettered in football and baseball, attended American Legion Boys’ State, active in Boy Scouts.

1959 graduate of Delta State University, class president for three years, listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, four-year member of the football and baseball teams, member of the “M” Club, received the Freddie Black Memorial Award, inducted into the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame, received the Hugh Ellis Walker Outstanding Alumnus Award and the Distinguished Statesman Award, was president of the Southwest MS DSU Alumni Association which established the Doug Sullivan Memorial Scholarship in 2007.

Taught and coached from 1959-1974 at Grenada High School, Noxapater High School, Eupora High School, and Brookhaven High School, president of the Choctaw Conference, coached his teams to victories in the Kosciusko Lions’ Bowl Bowl and the Grenada Lake Bowl, coach of the MHSAA All-Star Game in 1974, and was a 2007 recipient the All-American Football Foundation’s President Gerald R. Ford High School Football Coaching Award.

Owner and operator of Sullivan’s Sports World in Brookhaven for 19 years with store locations also in McComb and Grenada. Mayor of Brookhaven from 1993-1997.

Member of First United Methodist Church, served as Administrative Board Chairman, chairman of the Board of Trustees, charter president of United Methodist Men, Lay Leader, Sunday School superintendent, youth coordinator, and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. At his death was serving as chairman of both the First United Methodist Church and the Brookhaven District Pastor-Parish Relations committees and as a member of the board of the Mississippi Methodist Senior Services.

Chair of Recreation Committee and of Membership and Finance committees of the Chamber, president of the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, president of the Brookhaven Kiwanis Club, charter president of the Breakfast Kiwanis Club, member of the Mississippi Economic Council, member of Lincoln County Industrial Development Foundation, chairman of the Brookhaven Housing Authority Board, president of Brookhaven Country Club, commissioner and coach in the city’s Little League baseball program, coach of girls’ youth softball teams, leader of Boy Scout troop, 2001 King of Krewe of Ceres Charity Ball, and 2006 Grand Marshall of Christmas parade.

Retired Colonel of the Mississippi Army National Guard, served for over 34 years, commander of the Brookhaven detachment of the 155th Infantry Battalion in the early 1970s, company commander in Louisville, Kosciusko, and at the Guard’s state headquarters in Jackson.

State office director for United States Senator Thad Cochran for last 9 years of his life.

Married for 46 years to Karen Lovorn Sullivan; daughters, Paige Case; Penny Martin; Susan Sullivan; son, John Sullivan; three granddaughters, Elizabeth , Catherine, and Mary Madelon Case.