Joseph Wellington Hess, 77, was honored with a 21-gun salute at the Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, Jan. 24.
Following the salute, Hess' three sons, stepson, wife, ex-wife, grandchildren and friends watched soldiers ceremonially fold the American Flag and hand it to Eva Hess, his wife, thanking her for her husband's faithful service to the U.S. Army and the nation.
"That was pretty amazing, plus the playing of 'Taps' and the folding of the flag," said Hess' son, Joseph W. Hess Jr., 43. "He led such an interesting life."
Hess died of respiratory failure at his home in Carderock on Dec. 20, 2004. In 2001, he was diagnosed with Lewy body disease, a cause of dementia similar to Alzheimer's disease.
Hours before the service at Arlington National Cemetery, music of Mahler, Lindberg, Rachmaninov and Bach filled Augustana Lutheran Church, in Washington. D.C., during a service his family held in celebration of Hess' life.
"I was always interested in classical music, but Joe opened an entirely new musical world for me," said Eva Hess, 72, his wife of 26 years.
Dvorak was the composer who conducted the opening bars of Hess' relationship with Eva Hess, who was a widow with two children, Arne Haak, then 9 years old, and Ann-Louise Haak, 7 years old, when Hess entered their lives.
Hess had three sons from a previous marriage to Solange Trudel Hess, which ended in divorce.
"I remember vividly when Joe came to visit me. He brought his slides from his trip to Southeast Asia," Eva Hess said during the service. "He played a Dvorak record that I really liked; he gave it to me right away.”
Hess owned more than 1,000 classical and opera CDs, LPs and reel-to-reel tapes, and enjoyed a subscription series at the National Symphony and the Washington Opera for 40 years.
"He was not a prolific letter writer, but after that first visit he wrote me a long letter. He told me he knew that he was not Prince Charming," Eva Hess said.
Their relationship was sealed when Ann-Louise "went up and put her arms around him and kissed him. He looked as if he had just received a ton of gold," Eva Hess said.
The two married in 1978.
Eva Hess keeps the cards her husband gave her through the years, including one with an illustration of a person standing on top of a globe — "Happy Valentine's Day to the one my world revolves around."
"He was a most interesting and fine man and leaves a great void," Eva Hess said.
<b>HESS WAS BORN</b> in Sunbury, Pa., one of five children.
"He grew up kind of poor in Pennsylvania and was literally trapping and hunting for food and selling the pelts," Hess Jr. said. "He and his father sometimes had 20 muskrats and beaver pelts stretched out and pinned to the side of the barn."
Hess enlisted in the U.S. Army during his senior year of high school, and missed his graduation ceremony to take a training course with the Army to prepare for his service as an infantryman in Gen. Douglas MacArthur's headquarters during the occupation of Japan.
Hess graduated from Penn State University in 1951 with a degree in agriculture and later studied civil engineering at the University of Maryland and Catholic University.
Following employment with North American Aviation as a design engineer, Hess moved to Alaska where he worked as an engineer on road and bridge design and as a land surveyor for nine years.
Hess relocated to Greenbelt in 1959 to work for the Federal Highway Administration in McLean, Va.
Hess, whose children were grown, and Eva Hess moved to Carderock with her children in 1979.
With the Federal Highway Administration, Hess conducted road and traffic research as a deputy chief with the Traffic Systems Division. He retired as a GS-15 when he was 56 years old.
"He had a Department of Defense card; he was one of the people the government chose to help in case of the event of a nuclear war," said Hess Jr. "He was to help with the rebuilding of infrastructure and the highways."
<b>"THERE WAS SO MUCH</b> under the surface," Eva Hess said.
"You had to pull [stories] out of him," said Hess Jr.
"Still waters run deep," said Gary Hibbs, who grew up in Greenbelt with Hess' sons Karl, 47, Danny, 45, and Hess Jr, 43.
"You saw someone with passion for different things," said Hibbs, who called Hess "a remarkable introvert … with a great wit."
The neighborhood children in Greenbelt understood that football and baseball games would temporarily be halted, Hibbs said, because it was the Hess brothers who were responsible for recording opera performances broadcast on National Public Radio. "One of the boys assignments was to make sure the button was pressed," Hibbs said.
"He was constantly ramming opera down our throats," Karl Hess said, during the service, recalling the time they had Hibbs listen to opera with their father.
"But what are they saying," Karl said Hibbs asked his father.
"Rock is trash," he said his father responded.
<b>HESS TRAVELED</b> to more than 40 countries during his life. He and Eva traveled frequently during their marriage, often exchanging houses with people across the country and in Canada.
Trips included weeks in Santa Fe — "There was a hot tub on the roof and we would get in it every night and the sun would set," Eva said — Vancouver — "I never ate as many raspberries" — and Hawaii — "I remember coming home one day, and he said, 'We have an offer from Hawaii.' He was dancing on the floor."
"Our trips were delightful," said Eva, who also traveled with him to Norway, France, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Andorra.
Photography was another of Hess' interests. "In Norway, he was fascinated by the ever changing scenery — we had to stop all the time for him to take pictures," said Eva, a native of Sweden.
<b>EACH SPRING,</b> Hess traveled to Florida for spring training, where he watched his favorite team, the Detroit Tigers, prepare for the upcoming Major League Baseball season.
Hess played golf, softball and tennis at the Carderock Swim and Tennis Club, and was the captain of the Montgomery Inter-Club Senior Tennis League from 1990-2000.
In addition to adoring cats as household pets, Hess had season tickets to watch the Penn State Nittany Lions for 35 years, including the years his stepson Arne Haak, now 37, played in the Penn State marching band from 1985-1988.
<b>AFTER LEWY BODY</b> disease affected his body and brain, Hess joined the Iona Club and the Friends Club, located at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda.
"He called it going to the office, he felt he was in a routine," Eva said. "It did something for his spirit."
"He spent the last five months in nursing homes and hospitals. He could speak very little any more," Eva Hess said, during the service. "When I asked him in the beginning of December if he would like to come home, he said, 'Do you need help?'"
That was his way, according to Eva Hess.
Eva Hess chose the first symphony of Mahler, Hess' favorite composer, to be played as a prelude to the service she held in honor of her husband. Mahler liked walking in the forest, as did her husband, Eva Hess said.
On their first date, Hess took her to "one of his favorite places on earth, his aunt's and uncle's farm in Pennsylvania," she said. "He walked all over the place, showing me where he went swimming and fishing and trapping, and where he planted innumerable walnut trees in his youth."
"These are rich memories of a man that I treasure," said Eva Hess.
<b>IN ADDITION</b> to eight grandchildren, survivors include his wife Eva Hess; three sons, Karl of Miami, Daniel and his wife Barbara of Olney, and Joseph Jr. and his wife Christy of Boise, Idaho; stepchildren Arne Haak and his wife Denise of Orlando, and Ann-Louise Haak and her partner Shelby Hatch of Chicago; sister Jane Hasek of Atlanta; and ex-wife Solange Trudel Hess of Greenbelt.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Derl and Alice Hess of Sunbury, Pa.; and three brothers, Derl Jr., Robert and John.