Cover photo for Dr. Richard J. Hess's Obituary
Dr. Richard J. Hess Profile Photo

Dr. Richard J. Hess

August 18, 1937 — December 1, 2021

Dr. Richard J. Hess

Richard Jacob (Dick) Hess was born August 18, 1937, in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, and grew up in neighboring Bangor, a town of 6,000 people nestled in the base of the Allegany Mountains, not far from the Delaware Water Gap. The only child of Gwendolyn and Ralph Hess, Dick had an idyllic childhood: playing every sport he could, trout and bass fishing with his father, and hiking in the nearby mountains with his fellow Boy Scouts. He first saw the love of his life, Barbara Henning, when he was twelve, but did not work up the courage to talk to her until they had a class together in the eleventh grade. They married in 1959 and have been best friends and lovers ever since. Dick had a tremendous love for sports. He played quarterback for the Bangor High School football team and after his senior season he was named to the All-Conference team and 2nd Honorable Mention to the All-State team. He retained a love for football his entire life. After high school, he attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and experienced a wonderful and eventful four years. He then attended Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and graduated with highest honors, finishing in the top five in his class of over 100 students. After graduating from Temple in June 1963 he joined the Army to continue his medical training. First at Madigan General Hospital in Tacoma, Washington then to William Beaumont Hospital in El Paso, Texas. An overseas deployment followed. His final assignment was to Fort Dix, New Jersey. He returned to Philadelphia and completed a fellowship in Rheumatology at Temple University Hospital. He served honorably in the United States Army Medical Corps for seven years and, from 1967 to 1968, he served as the chief medical officer of a Medical Army Surgical Hospital Unit (MASH) in both Korea and Vietnam. He loved his experience in the military and held deep pride for his service and the service of his fellow soldiers. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze service star. Major Hess retired from the Army in 1970. Following the completion of his military service, he and his family settled in Oklahoma City, where he would reside for the rest of his life. He worked at the McBride Clinic for 31 years before retiring in 2001. Quickly finding retirement entirely too unstimulating, he practiced as a locum tenens physician at an occupational medicine clinic until 2019. He was active in the Arthritis Foundation, serving as president for three years and on the board of directors for twenty years. He was a member of the American Medical Association and a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology. He was a man of science with a strong passion for learning. His greatest pursuit in life was applying his knowledge to heal his patients. A lifelong student, he looked forward to his annual continuing medical education coursework and maintained his license to practice medicine until the day he died. He had an undying love for his wife of 62 years, Barbara, and their daughters, Beth Graves and her husband Cody, Jo Ann Schlegel and her husband Mark, and Carol Moffer and husband Kent. His six grandchildren, Ben Graves and his wife Caitlin; Kevin Schlegel and Becca Ogden; Matt Graves and his wife Elizabeth; Debra Schlegel Sartin and her husband Mike; Will Graves and his wife Julie; and Megan Moffer, proved to be extraordinarily special to him. He reveled in their presence and could not get enough of their accomplishments. His most treasured memories were watching them play sports, perform at dance recitals, and summer afternoons spent swimming in his pool. He was so proud to see them all grow up to be wonderful, kind adults. He was especially glad to meet two of his great-grandchildren, Eloise and Henry Graves. He was a man of many interests. He loved to travel the world in search of cozy yet elegant restaurants, to drink wine and toast with champagne, and to meet fascinating people, usually finding the most fascinating ones in pubs. He loved reading, flyfishing, college football, the United States Army, Muhlenberg College, and Temple Medical School. His greatest interest was the American Civil War. He devoted countless hours to study and devoured countless books on every aspect of the war. For many years his most anticipated travel was his annual summer trip to the Civil War Institute in Gettysburg, often referring to it as his "grown-up summer camp." He cherished the people he met and the friendships he developed there. He loved to visit battle sites, particularly forts from the French and Indian War. His greatest hobby was golf. He and Barbara were long time members of The Greens and then Oak Tree Golf and Country Club and made many friends there. In his home office he kept a map of the United States with a pin marking each course he and Barbara played across the country and he was proud to say they played in all fifty states. His most treasured golf experiences were playing at Royal Dornoch and Machrihanish in Scotland. He loved golf, golf clothes, golf clubs, golf courses, golf architecture, but to his great dismay was never able to play the game as well as he had always wished. A prayer service will be held at Smith and Kernke, 14624 North May Ave., Oklahoma City, at 5:00pm on Sunday, December 5th. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Christ the King Catholic Church, 8005 Dorset Drive, Nichols Hills, at 10:30am on Monday, December 6th. A private inurnment will be held at Resurrection Cemetery in Oklahoma City later. In lieu of flowers, Dick's family requests that donations be made to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation or the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation for arthritis research.
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