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J.W. Edgar, who served for more than 24 years as Texas's first appointed commissioner of education, died late last month at the age of 83.

Mr. Edgar retired from the state's top education post in 1974. At the time of his appointment in 1950, he was superintendent of the Austin Independent School District.

Mr. Edgar entered the state commissioner's office as part of a school-reform program crafted by leaders in the Texas legislature and adopted in 1949.

Concerned about the level of partisan political influence in the education system, legislators amended the state constitution to make the commissioner an appointed rather than an elected official.

During Mr. Edgar's tenure, a minimum-foundation program was put in place, schools were desegregated, and the state experienced rapid population growth and an economic boom. Toward the end of his term, demands were again growing for academic and financial reforms.

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