Retired Special Agent Joe Hess passed away September 14, 2002, in Kansas City. Joe retired from the GPR in 1976 with 30 years service. The following is his obituary from The Columbia Missourian:
The Columbia Missourian
Royals' most loyal fan dies
Joe Hess Jr. was at each home game for 22 years.
September 19, 2002
KANSAS CITY - White-bearded Joe Hess Jr., a Kansas City Royals fan who was a fixture in the right field stands for more than two decades, died Saturday. He was 82.
Hess, whose bushy beard gave him a remarkable likeness to Santa Claus, retired in 1976 after 30 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In retirement he enjoyed playing Santa for children and going without fail to Royals' games.
Until slowed by illness, Hess had attended every home game for 22 years. He would arrive at the ballpark at 3 p.m. to get in line for his favorite front-row seat in what until this year used to be the general admission area.
Even after the change to a reserved seating policy, the Royals "awarded" Hess his position - Section 144, Row J, Seat 1.
"That meant a lot to him," his wife, Dorothy, said.
Hess was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who served with the Marines on Guadalcanal in World War II.
His health began to fail this spring, and an infection led to the amputation of his left foot Aug. 2. His physician, Dr. Walter Bender, thought that getting him back to the stadium was an important part of his rehabilitation, and he took him to see the Royals play the New York Yankees on Aug. 14.
"That was such a morale-booster," Dorothy Hess said. "He was in rehab and trying to get better. To be able to get to a game meant everything. He got so much attention that night ... he was just very, very happy."
Hess, in a wheelchair, was misty-eyed after watching the game from Section 106 behind home plate.
"To be there, and to see all the magical things about the game," he said. "Things like seeing a shortstop go out to left field to get a ball. That's what the game is all about."
Hess, who lived in suburban Leawood, Kan., died at Kindred Hospital in Kansas City.
"I'm not sure what really happened," Dorothy Hess said. "They can't say it was complications from the amputation, but they can't really say it wasn't. It could have been heart failure, too."
The funeral will be today, and Kim Hillix, the team's director of promotions, said the Royals plan a moment of silence in honor of Hess before Friday night's game against Cleveland, with flowers placed in his favorite seat. They also plan to install a memorial plaque bearing his picture.
"In our minds there was no better Royals' fan," Herk Robinson, vice president of the team, said. "We will miss him very much."
Copyright 2002 Columbia Missourian
Retired Special Agent Joe Hess was featured in the August 15th sports section of the Kansas City Star. The article described Joe's Santa look as well as his being an icon at the Kansas City Royals games. For those of you who don't remember Joe, he is one of the old FmHA folks who were mustered into OIG at OIG's creation. Joe retired in the late '70's from the GPR. To read the article, click here.