Governor William A. Allain
Former Mississippi Governor Bill Allain died Monday, December 2 at St. Dominic Memorial Hospital in Jackson at the age of 85. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 12 Noon Saturday, December 7, 2013 at St. Mary Basilica in Natchez with burial at the Natchez City Cemetery. Gov. Allain will lie in state on Friday, December 6, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Mississippi State Capitol. A state memorial service will begin at 3:00 p.m. He served as the state's 59th governor from 1984-1988 after having spent the prior four years as State Attorney General. Governor Allain's vision, leadership and legal ability literally transformed the structure of Mississippi state government. As Attorney General, his signature accomplishment was a successful lawsuit to prohibit members of the legislature from serving on executive boards and agencies. In state court, he argued that the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 required separation of powers and that legislative officials could not serve in the executive branch. The Supreme Court of Mississippi in Allain v. Alexander ruled in favor of Attorney General Allain and ordered the separation of the two branches of government. The decision in Allain v. Alexander is often referred as "Mississippi's Marbury vs. Madison". His victory in this landmark case strengthened the Mississippi executive branch and streamlined Mississippi government after the court's mandate was carried out in the Administrative Reorganization Act of 1984. While serving as the state's chief executive, Governor Allain continued his support for constitutional reform and consumer advocacy. He worked to restructure the State Board of Education and reform the Mississippi Highway Department. An amendment to the Mississippi Constitution allowing the governor to succeed himself was passed during his term with his backing. However, he chose not to seek a second term as governor. Governor Allain's administration, was also noted for bringing women and minorities into leadership positions of government. "Bill Allain demanded diversity and opened doors that had previously been closed. By doing so, he created opportunities for me and other women to serve the state and to grow professionally," said JoAnn Klein, who worked as Gov. Allain's press secretary. As Attorney General he built a solid reputation as a consumer advocate by preventing utility rate hikes and keeping a nuclear waste site out of the state. Allain was born on February 14, 1928 in Washington (Adams County), Mississippi. He received his Bachelor's degree from Notre Dame University and earned his law degree at the University of Mississippi in 1950. Following graduation from law school, he briefly practiced law in Natchez. During the Korean War, Governor Allain answered the call of his country and served three years, much of which was in combat zones, in the United States Army Infantry. Following his discharge from the Army in 1953, Governor Allain practiced law in Natchez until 1962 when he was appointed Assistant Attorney General for the State of Mississippi. From 1962 until 1975, as Assistant Attorney General he represented the State of Mississippi in cases before state courts, the federal district and circuit court of appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. In 1975 he left the Attorney General's Office and returned to the private practice of law in Jackson, Mississippi until his election as Attorney General in 1979. After leaving office in January 1988, Governor Allain resumed the private practice of law in Jackson and remained active in legal, political and civic affairs. Governor Allain was known as an accomplished attorney, legal scholar, statesman, fiscal conservative, consumer advocate and a true friend of the people.
A man of strong faith, Governor Allain was a devout Catholic. Out of the public eye, he spent many holidays serving food to the poor at not-for-profit organizations. "He was a lion when it came to fighting for what was right, but a lamb when it was time to care for others," said his close friend Barbara Brooks of Madison.
To date, Governor Allain is the only Catholic to have served as Mississippi's chief executive. Governor Allain is preceded in death by his parents, Capt. Henry G. and Alice Leona Smith Allain, brother, Henry T. Allain and sister, Mary Peale. He is survived by two sisters, Margaret (Maggie) Gibbs of Florence, Mississippi, formerly of Natchez and Mildred Newsome of Houston, Texas, formerly of New Orleans, and numerous nieces and nephews and friends. Special thanks to his devoted caregivers, Formeika "Mikey" Bryant, Brittany Slaughter, Jeanette Jackson, Josetta Mahoney, Teresa Mahoney and T&L Sitters. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to these organizations: Stewpot Community Service, 845 West Amite St, Jackson, Miss. 39203, The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 39154, Jackson , Miss. 39286-1954, St. Mary's Catholic Basilica, 107 South Union St., Natchez, Miss. 39120.
Published in Clarion Ledger from Dec. 4 to Dec. 6, 2013