March 15, 1921: Death ends thirty-four years of service to Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1921, longtime Duluth public servant Fred J. Voss died from hardening of the arteries, ending his thirty-four years of public service to the City of Duluth. Voss, a German immigrant, and his wife Orin moved to Duluth in 1887 as the community was regaining its status as a city. The ambitious thirty-year-old was appointed clerk of the district court and city treasurer within a year of his arrival. After retiring from the court in 1899, he continued as city treasurer, re-elected every two years until Duluth voted to changes its form of government in 1913. Under this new system he was elected Commissioner of Finance in 1913 and 1917 and had filed for re-election in 1921, but illness forced him to withdraw. And while he wasn’t even on the ballot, 1,251 Duluthians voted for him in an election that took place just days before his death. The Duluth News Tribune wrote of Voss that “Although a lifelong Democrat, Mr. Voss has had the support of all political bodies of the city for years. His record as treasurer and commissioner of finance ended unblemished. Due to his constant interest in his work and the welfare of the city, Duluth today is enjoying the lowest tax rate of any city of its size in the country.” The day after his death, Flags flew at half mast and Duluth’s City Council passed a resolution honoring Voss and noting that his death “has brought to the entire city and to every citizen a deep sense of loss.” An editorial called him the city’s “faithful servant, wise booster, and devoted friend.” Several other article repeated the fact that under Voss, Duluth had the nation’s lowest tax rate for a city of its size.

Fred J. Voss. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)