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NEFF, EARL J.

NEFF, EARL J. (4 April 1902-12 March 1993) moved from a career in commercial art to an avocation as Cleveland's acknowledged authority on "ufology"--the study of UFOs, or "Unidentified Flying Objects." Born in Cleveland, the son of Albert and Bertha Beutel Neff, he graduated from Lakewood High School and the Cleveland School of Art (see CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART). He also studied at the JOHN HUNTINGTON POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE and in 1928 married the former Vivian Uhl. During the Depression, Neff completed a mural at LAKEVIEW TERRACE as part of the New Deal's Treasury Relief Art Project. He joined TRAP's successor, the Federal Art Project, becoming 3rd director of the Cleveland unit for a few months in 1938-9 and completing another mural for the community cabin in FAIRVIEW PARK. As a commercial artist, he maintained his own studio and served as art editor for several local businesses, including 10 years at Sohio (see STANDARD OIL CO./B.P. AMERICA). He also served as a counselor for the Vocational Guidance and Rehabilitation Service before retiring in 1966. Neff's interest in UFOs had begun in 1958 with the first of an alleged 8 personal sightings by 1973. He was elected chairman of the Cleveland Ufology Project (CUP) in 1958 and served as U.S. representative of the Intercontinental UFO Observer and Analytical Network (ICUFON). He gained a national forum through lecturing and talk radio programs. Though personally convinced that UFOs were genuine phenomena emanating from outer space, Neff included the exposure of "frauds in ufology." A resident of PARMA, he was buried in Sunset Memorial Park, survived by a son, Roger J., and daughter, Joann Conner.