DEAD: ON THIS DATE
J. Edgar Hoover (aged 77)
American law enforcement officer and first director of the FBI
John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States and an American law enforcement administrator. He was appointed as the director of the Bureau of Investigation – the FBI’s predecessor – in 1924 and was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director for another 37 years until his death in 1972 at the age of 77. Hoover has been credited with building the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency than it was at its inception and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.
DEATH: Hoover remained director of the FBI until he died of a heart attack in his Washington home, on May 2, 1972. Operational command of the Bureau passed to Associate Director Clyde Tolson. On May 3, 1972, Nixon appointed L. Patrick Gray – a Justice Department official with no FBI experience – as Acting Director of the FBI, with W. Mark Feltbecoming Associate Director.
Hoover’s body lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, where Chief Justice Warren Burgereulogized him. Hoover is the only civil servant to have lain in state. President Nixon delivered another eulogy at the funeral service in the National Presbyterian Church, and called Hoover “one of the Giants, [whose] long life brimmed over with magnificent achievement and dedicated service to this country which he loved so well”. Hoover was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., next to the graves of his parents and a sister who died in infancy.