John Ed Ainsworth, Mississippi's last public land commissioner, has died at the age of 66.
Ainsworth served as land commissioner from 1976 to 1980, though he called for the post to be abolished to make government more efficient. The commissioner's duties were folded into the secretary of state's office in 1980.
Ainsworth worked to make 16th Section lands more profitable for the school districts that benefit from them. He advocated placing limits on the terms of leases and seeking competitive bids.
The Clarion-Ledger says that Ainsworth is survived by his ex-wife, Nan, and three adult sons. A memorial service will be held Thursday in Madison.