By Emily Wagster Pettus
JACKSON – A memorial service for former Mississippi Gov. Bill Allain will be held Friday at the state Capitol in Jackson, and the funeral will be Saturday in Natchez.
Allain, a Democrat, was governor from January 1984 to January 1988, after serving one term as attorney general. He was known for strengthening the executive branch of state government and for appointing significant numbers of women and minorities to top jobs.
Allain died Monday in Jackson after being hospitalized with pneumonia. He was 85.
Sebrell Funeral Home in Ridgeland said Tuesday that Allain’s body will lie in repose in the Capitol rotunda from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, and the memorial service will begin at the Capitol at 3 p.m.
The funeral is set for noon Saturday at St. Mary Basilica in Natchez, where Allain grew up. Burial will be in Natchez City Cemetery.
As attorney general, Allain successfully sued to remove legislators from the boards and commissions that oversee state agencies. During his first year as governor, he pushed to put the structural changes into state law.
Allain also pushed to amend the state’s 1890 constitution to lift its ban on any governor serving back-to-back terms.
Voters approved the amendment in 1986, but Allain chose not to seek a second term the following year.
“Gov. Allain was a man of great vision and conviction,” former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat who served from 2000 to 2004, said Tuesday. “His separation-of-powers lawsuit made the executive branch a meaningful part of state government. Mississippi will forever owe a debt of gratitude for this action.”
After leaving office, Allain remained in the Jackson area, returned to private law practice and rarely sought public attention. He continued to serve Thanksgiving and Christmas meals at Jackson shelters, and friends say he enjoyed lively discussions about the law.
Statement from the family of former Mississippi Gov. Bill Allain, who died Monday:
“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.”
The family 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 Basilica, 107 S. Union St., Natchez, MS 39120.