Reactions have come from some Mississippi leaders, both Democrat and Republican, to the death of former Gov. Bill Allain:
• Democrat William Winter, who was governor from January 1980 to January 1984, when Allain was attorney general and just before Allain was governor: “His legacy will be those reforms he successfully implemented in separating the authority of the Legislature from the executive branch, and making it impossible for legislators to sit on executive boards … He was able to add some constructive provisions in the law regulating utilities and service charges, particularly for electric service. … He was wedded to the law, was an excellent lawyer, excellent trial lawyer, excellent attorney general. He was less at home at the glass house that one is in as governor. I had a high regard for him…. I think he generally will be remembered as an honest governor who tried to do his duty.”
• Republican Gov. Phil Bryant: “Deborah and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Gov. Allain, and we are praying for his family and friends. We appreciate his many years of service to this state and are also grateful for his service in the United States Army.”
• Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat: “He would not stand for any closed-door meetings…. He took on issues and people that nobody else would touch…. He had pure, undaunted courage to stand up for the average guy who couldn’t give a campaign contribution, couldn’t hire a lobbyist…. His core was so very courageous and attuned to just the average guy and the average lady in Mississippi…. He was such a raw-boned fighter and he got so much done.”
• Mississippi Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole: “Never has there been a better champion of the common man than the late Bill Allain. Both as attorney general and as governor, Bill Allain made it his business to keep the interests of the average Mississippian as his primary consideration in crafting public policy. Whether battling to keep utility costs affordable, insisting upon frugality in state government, or fighting to open up the closed doors of insider politics, Bill Allain always made it clear that he was the people’s advocate, without hesitation or apology. His was one of the most tremendous legal minds of his generation. He knew the federal and state constitutions better than just about any other member of the bar.”
• Mississippi Republican Party chairman Joe Nosef: “I was fortunate to get to know Gov. Allain as one of my professors in law school. During the last 20 years we kept in touch, and he was nice enough to take time to provide counsel on issues of mutual importance. His public service to the state of Mississippi and the country should be appreciated by all.”
In addition, Allain’s family has released a statement:
“We mourn the passing of our beloved brother and uncle Bill Allain. Bill loved the state of Mississippi and spent his life as public servant defending and representing the people of Mississippi as assistant attorney general and later as attorney general. He represented the consumers of Mississippi and advocated for the average Mississippian.
“As governor, he continued to represent all Mississippians and his administration was inclusive of all people: black and white, male and female, Catholic and Protestant, rich and poor. He never forgot his upbringing and his strong Catholic faith. He was able to forge a coalition in the Legislature to work for the common good and in victory or defeat he was able to forgive and be tolerant of those with differing points of view. We, as his family, thank the people of Mississippi for choosing him as attorney general in 1979 and for electing him governor in 1983. Bill always served with honor, integrity and distinction. His Catholic faith and servanthood were the driving force in his life and career.”
Allain, a Democrat who appointed significant numbers of women and minorities to government jobs and strengthened the executive branch by removing legislators from state boards, died Monday at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson.
Tom Allain, a nephew, says the former governor was 85.
A law associate, Louis Clifford, says Allain had been hospitalized about two weeks with pneumonia.
Allain was governor from January 1984 to January 1988, after serving a term as attorney general from 1980 to 1984.
He was the first Mississippi governor in modern times who could’ve sought a second consecutive term after the ban on gubernatorial succession was lifted in 1986. He chose not to seek re-election.
The Allain family was working on funeral arrangements today at Sebrell Funeral Home in Ridgeland. They suggested that instead of flowers, people could make donations to a charity of their choice, including:
— Stewpot Community Services, P.O. Box 3610, Jackson, MS 39203
— The Salvation Army, P. O. Box 31954, Jackson, MS 39286-1954
— St. Mary’s Catholic Basilica, 107 S. Union St., Natchez, MS 39120