Former state Sen. Ulysses Lee "Rip" Gooch, a pioneer for African Americans in aviation, died Wednesday. He was 98.
Gooch, the grandfather of former Senate staffer and Democratic Party executive director Kerry Gooch, served in the state Senate from 1993 until retiring in January 2004.
When he left the Senate at 80, he was the oldest serving state senator.
When he was in the Senate, he introduced the bill that created the African-American Affairs Commission.
Born in Ripley, Tennessee in 1923, Gooch was the son of sharecroppers and the grandson of emancipated slaves.
Orphaned at age four, Gooch dreamed . . .