A memorial service for former Governor Bill Allain will be held in the Capitol rotunda this Friday, but as MPB's Paul Boger reports Mississippians are already talking about the legacy of the state's 58th governor.
Bill Allain served as Governor of Mississippi from 1984-1988. While he may be best remembered for being the first Governor to appoint a significant number of women and minorities to government jobs, many state officials believe Allain should be also be remembered for his work preserving the separation of powers within the state government.
Former Governor William Winter was a close friend and predecessor of Allain.
"I think he should probably be best remembered for his enhancing the authority of the Governor's office by making it impossible for Legislators to serve on executive department boards." said Winter. "That was a significant change in the way we did business that added to the authority of the Governor's office."
Former Secretary of State Eric Clark was one of those legislators serving in the Mississippi House of Representatives while Allain was governor. Clark says Allain's crusading style made his job as governor difficult.
"He was better at fighting something then he was building coalitions." said Clark. "He was an extremely bright guy, and I think his main legacy will be more for his time as Attorney General than his time as Governor.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann agrees with Winter. Hosemann says Mississippians have Governor Allain to thank for changing the way the state government runs.
"When he became Governor he was a strict constitutionalist." said Hosemann. "At that time, the members of the Legislature served on virtually every board. Mississippi has over 200 agency boards and commissions. You wouldn't run a lemonade stand like you would state government, but that being the case at the time, Governor Allain went forward and tested the fact that this was a constitutional issue.
The funeral is set for noon Saturday at St. Mary'sBasilica in Natchez, where Allain grew up. Burial will be in Natchez City Cemetery.