James Rowland Hess
March 19, 1927 – January 18, 2020
Jim was born in Ft. Madison, Iowa to Raymond and Lelia Hess. Following Jim, came his brothers Robert (Bob) and Gene. In 1945, after high school, Jim entered the Army at the end of World War II and served until 1947 where he spent the majority of his time in Italy. When he returned to Iowa, he enrolled in Drake University where he met his first wife, Glenna Groseclose, and earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Masters Degree in Music. They then moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico where he held a teaching position with the local school district. Jim and Glenna welcomed the birth of their son, David in February 1957. While in New Mexico they enjoyed camping and exploring the areas around Los Alamos, as well as Taos and Santa Fe. Jim even got to sing with the Santa Fe Opera. The family then moved to Fayette, Missouri where he taught voice at Central Methodist University.
After a few years they headed West to California where Jim became the Superintendent of Music for the Downey Unified School District from 1964 to 1980. His daughter-in-law, Jodi, remembers meeting him in grade school when he traveled around to each school directing their music programs. In his spare time, he was also the Choir Director at Downey United Methodist Church, and the Musical Director for the Downey Community Theater.
Jim and Glenna divorced, and after a few years Jim met Carol Backencamp Kaminski during a production of a musical at the Downey Community Theater. They soon married, and not long after welcomed into the world their son, Dana Hess. After leaving Downey Unified, Jim and Carol opened “Hess Music Services” on Florence Ave. in Downey. The store served area musicians from 1980 to 1993. After closing the store, Jim remained active and was employed by Knotts Berry Farm as a Security Guard from 1994 to 2007.
In his retirement he and Carol had a home in Bellflower, and eventually moved in with Carol’s sister, Judy, in Long Beach. Jim was a lover of opera, bowling, peanut brittle, Great Danes, and the LA Dodgers. He remained a lover of the great outdoors throughout his life, enjoying hiking, camping, and trips with his family in their motor home.
He was a beloved son, brother, husband, father, uncle, and grandfather. He will be greatly missed and always loved by his wife, Carol; his sister-in-law, Judy Backencamp; his son & daughter-in-law, David & Jodi Hess; his son & his fiancée, Dana Hess & Tanya Lloyd; his stepson, Jeff Kaminski; his stepson & daughter-in-law, Mark & Valerie Kaminski; and his brother Bob. His youngest brother, Gene, recently passed away a few months before him. Also missing him will be his two grandchildren, Wyatt & Katy Hess; his five nephews; and many great nieces and nephews.
Please join us at his “Celebration of Life” on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.
Winward Village Mobile Home Park, 3595 Santa Fe Ave. Long Beach 90810 – in the Community Club House. Please join us for lunch and celebrating the life and stories of Jim.
**To help us with food planning, please let us know if you will be attending.
Thank You. Call or text: Dana Hess (562) 477-5072 or Jodi Hess (714) 458-8718
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