Obituary for Eliot Ness | Thomas E. Fickinger Funeral Home, Ltd.
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Eliot Ness

April 19, 1903 ~ May 16, 1957 (age 54)

Eliot Ness, 54, of 105 E. Third Street, Coudersport, formerly of Cleveland, passed away suddenly on Thursday, May 16, 1957, at 5:15 p.m., at his home.

Mr. Ness was born on April 19, 1903 in Chicago, Ill., the son of the late Peter and Emma (King) Ness.  On January 31, 1946, he married the former Elisabeth Andersen, who survived.

He attended the University of Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also studied criminology.  Mr. Ness began a career in law enforcement with the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Prohibition.  He was assigned to head up a task force of trusted, incorruptible men, which the media would label “The Untouchables,” as part of the federal government’s crackdown on organized crime in the Chicago area symbolized by mob boss Al Capone. Mr. Ness’s team focused on violations of the Volstead Act, prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Other investigators gathered evidence of tax evasion. Mr. Ness would later become a Chief Prohibition Investigator for the federal government’s Midwest District.  After Prohibition was repealed, he became a Federal Alcohol Tax Unit investigator in Tennessee, Kentucky and southern Ohio.

Based on his outstanding record in federal service, Mr. Ness was appointed by Cleveland, Ohio, Mayor Harold Burton to serve in the influential position of Public Safety Director.  He was chiefly responsible for reform of the police department, innovative solutions to traffic problems, institution of city-sponsored activities for troubled youths and a successful crackdown on organized crime and corruption.

Mr. Ness also served in an important position for the Federal Social Protection Program during World War II, traveling to military bases across the country in a law enforcement and public education capacity. He eventually entered the business world, where he served as chairman of the board of directors for Diebold, Inc., of Canton, Ohio. At the time of his death, he was president of the Coudersport-based Guaranty Paper Company, a subsidiary of North Ridge Industrial Corporation.

Mr. Ness was survived by his wife; a son, Robert Eliot Ness; a sister, Clara Jamie of California; and a brother, Charles Ness of Indianapolis, Ind. He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters, Effie and Nora.

Services were held on Saturday, May 18, 1957, the Grabe Funeral Home, 210 North East Street, Coudersport, with the Rev. Robert H.R.  Loughborough, minister of the First Presbyterian Church, Coudersport, officiating.  A cremation followed.  In 1997, Eliot, Elisabeth and Robert Ness were interred at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio.

Everyone is welcome to visit the Thomas E. Fickinger Funeral Home (formerly Grabe Funeral Home), 210 North East Street, Coudersport, this weekend during the festival for light refreshments and a commemorative laminated obituary book marker, in celebration of Mr. Ness’s Life.

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