Ned Simmons, the former chief executive and chairman of the board of McIlhenny Company, the makers of Tabasco sauce products, died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 83.

Simmons was the great-grandson of Tabasco sauce inventor E. McIlhenny.

According to a company news release, Simmons retired only recently as chairman of the board of the company.He was also president of Avery Island, Inc., which administered land and mineral rights on the family's well-known southwest Louisiana home.

'Ned will be sorely missed,' said Paul McIlhenny, current CEO and chairman of the board of McIlhenny Company. 'We will not soon forget the great impact he made at our family companies and in our community.'

Company leaders credit Simmons with embracing new technology and the use of soil analysis and conservation practices.

He earned a degree in biology from Tulane University, which friends said contributed to his interest in the biological sciences and agriculture.He also pursued his interest in conservation and archaeology, particularly Mesoamerican archaeology.

A New Orleans native, Simmons served on many boards and nonprofit organizations and was a leader of the local business community as well.He retired with the rank of Major from the U.S. Army Reserves.

He is survived by four children, three stepchildren, 14 grandchildren and 6 great-granchildren.

Services were held at Avery Island Monday.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Middle American Research Institute (MARI) at Tulane University, or the John L. Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, 1315 Jefferson Hwy., New Orleans, LA 70121.

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