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Edward J Bell
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Birth: Aug. 8, 1922
Death: Jan. 23, 1998

Son of John R. Bell, Former Police Commissioner of Philadelphia from 1964-1966


Edward J. Bell, 75, who was police commissioner in Philadelphia immediately before Frank Rizzo took over the job in 1967, died of pancreatic cancer Friday at his home in Lady Lake, Fla. He had lived in Pompano Beach, Fla., from 1969 until moving to Lady Lake in 1996.

Mr. Bell had served as police commissioner from February 1966 to May 1967 before he decided to retire after a falling-out with his patron, Mayor James H.J. Tate.

The announcement from Tate's office said the retirement was solely based on Mr. Bell's heart ailment, hypertension and weight loss.

However, friends said, it was not for health reasons, but the mayor's demand to involve the Police Department in politics that drove Mr. Bell into early retirement.

Tate faced a difficult Democratic primary in 1967 and had demanded that all department heads mobilize behind him or lose their jobs if he were defeated.

Mr. Bell did not believe police should engage in politics and resisted, an act considered disloyal by the mayor.

Early in the primary season, police at Tate's urging, raided a number of taprooms and arrested more than 300 people. The mayor's political rivals accused him of deploying the police in this manner to pressure ward leaders who opposed him for a second term.

Mr. Bell became so disillusioned that he went into semi-isolation at his headquarters in the police administration building, refusing even to accept telephone calls from friends.

At age 44, he decided to retire from his $22,000-a-year post.

Mr. Bell, quiet and soft-spoken, was succeeded by Rizzo, blustery and aggressive. They were cordial friends. Rizzo had filled in as commissioner during Mr. Bell's health leaves.

Mr. Bell, who delivered newspapers to Tate's family as a youth, was born in West Kensington. After graduation from Northeast High School in 1942, he worked in a ball-bearing factory, his family said, but did not relish working indoors at the same routine.

Looking for stability and benefits, he joined the police force in June 1946. A punctured eardrum had kept him out of the military during World War II.

Mr. Bell once reminisced about his rookie days.

''We were appointed because of rising crime,'' he told an interviewer. ''They put us on the street with a badge and a key and told us to buy a gun. We had no uniform; we wore our own overcoats.''

Rookies at that time accompanied regular uniformed men, and did not receive formal training until five years later.

Mr. Bell rose in the ranks, and at one time was in charge of the police district that included Tate's home. Then a city commissioner, Tate reportedly was impressed by the young policeman's performance.

After retiring as commissioner, Mr. Bell owned and operated a marina in Surf City, N.J., before moving in 1969 to Pompano Beach and working as a postal carrier.

Two years later, he went to work for the Florida Department of Transportation as a highway engineer, a job involving planning and rights-of-way acquisition for highway construction or expansion.

He retired about three years ago.

Surviving are his wife of 52 years, Marie Barker Bell; five daughters, Patricia Henderson, Barbara Reif, Kathleen Kuester, Theresa Duncan, and Elizabeth Splendorio; a brother; a sister; and eight grandchildren.

A viewing will be held at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Hiers Memorial Chapel, 13851 U.S. Highway Route 441, Lady Lake, Fla., near Ocala. A Funeral Mass will be said at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Timothy Church, Lady Lake. Burial will be private.

Edward J. Bell led the Philadelphia Police Department in 1966 and 1967. Edi 
Family links: 
  John Richard Bell (1886 - 1948)
  Elizabeth M Foley Bell (1892 - 1955)
  Kathleen Bell Kuester (1955 - 2010)*
  Joseph John Bell (1915 - 1986)*
  John Richard Bell (1916 - 1978)*
  Helen Marie Bell McGuckin (1918 - 2002)*
  James Edward Bell (1919 - 1977)*
  George Francis Bell (1920 - 1970)*
  Edward J Bell (1922 - 1998)
  Francis Joseph Bell (1925 - 1991)*
  Thomas William Bell (1930 - 2012)*
*Calculated relationship
Created by: Mike Bell
Record added: Dec 14, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 32160506

miss you uncle ed, you told some great stories
- Mike Bell
 Added: Jul. 8, 2010

 Added: May. 23, 2010

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