Cecil Hess

Cecil Lawrence Hess, PHD, 97, Hibbing, Minn., formerly of International Falls, Minn., Missoula, Mont., and Monroe, Ga., passed away, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 at Guardian Health and Rehabilitation Center in Hibbing. Cecil was born Jan. 8, 1923 at the family homestead near Denton, Mont., to Cecil and May (Gray) Hess. Cecil graduated from the high school in Stanford, Mont., where he was the first graduate in the school’s history. He went on to study at Montana State University-Bozeman, where he met the love of his life, Jean Haight. Cecil served in the U.S. Navy during WWII and returned home to marry Jean on July 29, 1946. He was in the Naval Reserves during the Korean War, and was called up to instruct sailors on the use of the relatively newly discovered radar. He went on to graduate school to earn his PHD in chemistry at the Institute of Paper Chemistry partnering at the time with Lawrence College in Appleton, Wis.

Cecil worked as a chemist for Mando Paper Mill, International Falls, Minn., Bergstroms Paper Mill, Neenah, Wis., and Seimens & Eastern in Atlanta, Ga. After a long career in the paper industry, Cecil and Jean purchased a tree farm. Together they ran the Hess Tree Farm in Monroe, Ga., where they sold Christmas trees for over 20 years. People recall the Advent and Christmas campfire gatherings and hayrides offered to schools and church groups. Cecil used his chemist mind to make interesting wines. At the farm he had also planted an orchard of a variety of fruit trees that he used as ingredients in his wine recipes.

While raising their three children, Cecil and Jean opened their home to foreign exchange students. They also traveled to Europe, South America as well as across the United States. He was a member of the Masons and of the Central Congregational United Church of Christ. A leader in his church, Cecil once volunteered to take a youth group to New Orleans to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina left the city devastated. It was said when they returned home that the group of youth could not keep up with the guy in his 80’s!

It’s no surprise that Cecil liked to work with his hands. He made custom wooden file cabinets, tv trays with stand; he even made a wooden Scrabble game complete with letter tiles. In 2006 a group comprised of Jewish, Muslim and Christian people embarked on a World Pilgramage to distribute Peace Poles to places such as Spain and Morocco. The poles were handmade by Cecil and etched in Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and English languages.

Eventually Cecil and Jean sold the tree farm and returned to Montana. After Jean died, Cecil stayed in Montana for a few years before moving to Hibbing, Minn., to be close to his son Jim. Cecil moved to Guardian Angels after some health concerns. His final gig was being the resident Santa Claus for the children parties the last few years at Guardian Angels, which he really enjoyed. Cecil was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Jean and his brothers Francis and Lloyd.

He is survived by son Larry Hess, Ft. Meyers Beach, FL, daughter Lorinda and Toralf Lie, Missoula, Mont., son James and Jolene Hess, Hibbing, Minn., grandson Hank and Amanda Lie, great grandchildren Oliver and Adelane Lie, all of Folsom, Calif., and nieces, nephews and cousins.

Cecil’s family would like to thank the staff at Guardian Angels for their care and compassion of Cecil during his residence there. Reaching out to his children before he died so they could say good bye to him while he was in quarantine was a final immeasurable gift.

There will be no funeral service. A private gathering to honor Cecil’s life will be held at a later date.

As Cecil would say, “Time marches on.”

Arrangements are with the Dougherty Funeral Home of Hibbing.

To leave an online message of condolence for Cecil, please visit our website at www.doughertyofhibbing.com.

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