Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Marie Hess has passed away

I'm deeply sorry to report this sad Frost Valley news: Marie Hess has passed away. Here is what her daughter Bonnie wrote to me late last night: "Mom passed away gently on 2/9 with many of us around her. She loved life and touched so many people. I know we will miss her terribly." I will post details (about a memorial service, etc.) later today or tomorrow.

Stan Treadway remembers: This is really hard news to bear.  I think we all have extra special memories of Marie.  Her photo should appear in the margin next to the American Heritage Dictionary's definition of 'work ethic'!  When one worked with Marie, you had to 'bring it', bring your best stuff if you expected to work next to her.  And even if you were having an off day and had trouble keeping up, she'd ask what's wrong and come over and give you a hug on the shoulder to make things all better.  I am tearing up as I write because we have lost a rock in the FV foundation that sends a shudder through the 'family' of alums who knew her.  I feel so very fortunate to have been able to observe her in all the various roles she fulfilled during summer camp, environmental ed., conference weekends, and family camp.  In a word the woman was awesome to behold.  What energy to behold, and such spirit for that Valley.

Kathy King Steinwedel: Marie was my boss the first summer I worked at Frost Valley. I spent every summer there with my family, but the summer I was 14 she called our home and asked my mother if I could please come help her in the Laundry. Now, honestly, at 14 I was not too enthused about washing strangers socks and undies. I didn't even want to do it at home.... I am SO glad I went. Marie and Carl promised to watch out for me, and I always knew it. We kept a list of the crazy things we washed. Who knew campers and counselors kept these things in their pants pockets? One day I was leaning into a washer and Marie came up with some freshly washed marbles and she tossed them on the floor. I can still hear her say, "Kathy, you've lost your marbles!" I learned a lot from her that summer. To work hard, always. To be kind and generous. To be a little silly. And, finally, to fold mounds of laundry as fast as possible! I am so very glad That Marie chose to come to my Maryland wedding with Halbe and Jane. As I got older, I looked for her holiday cards each year. Reading her letter always made me smile. My day today was dimmer, sadder, knowing Marie was gone. I feel blessed to have known her.

Wendy Brown on behalf of herself and Jeff Brown: Jeff & I are reminiscing this morning about Hessie's volunteer spirit. She had a heart for mentoring young people and creating a team effort. Her leadership and willingness to give back are part of every memory we have. I have no doubt that she and Jane are catching up right now on all the FV news!

Maureen Heath Kosa: I am certain that Hessie was the rock for so many of us at our "home" away from home. Her strength was an inspiration for me as a shaky adolescent who was trying to become independent. I hear her voice in my head and smile. Prayers to all of you.

Rhonda McNamara: I feel very honored and blessed to have worked with her. I deeply enjoyed hearing all of the history and stories of yester year. She was one the hardest working women I have ever met and role model to us all. Her kind and giving spirit will be missed by us all. I am sure she is already "working" the room in heaven. Till we meet again dear friend.

Jenny Amanna: Aw. God bless. I remember clearly how she would sit just so in front of laundry. My fondest memory of her is when someone in my cabin, I forget which village or year, had lice and camp made our whole cabin wash everything down to my special teddy bear that I HAD to sleep with. I never told her, and I don't know how she knew, but she washed my teddy ahead of the rest and walked it to the dining hall for me so I wouldn't have to sleep a night without it. I remember being SO stressed through the morning, thinking about sleeping without that night, and like magic she appeared with my freshly washed teddy at lunch and I was so thrilled I welled up with tears and had to excuse myself to the bathroom so no one would see me cry about Teddy. She saved me that day, and I will always remember her kindness. After that I always would make sure I got a wave and a wink from her when I passed by through the day. Rest in peace. Love and healing to the family she leaves behind.

John Giannotti: I don't have one particular story, I just have a singular indelible memory of Marie, and the word that best describes it is Acceptance. Let's face it, we weren't part of an ordinary camp. All of us, from campers to those in charge, were part of something very very special. And in order to BE very very special, you have to think WAY out of the box. Many of our ideas for programs, events, activities, interactions, etc, were pretty out there. Some were ridiculously out there. Marie was a structured, disciplined woman. She quite easily could have done without all of the nonsense we manufactured. And yet, she GOT IT! She understood how to bend and change with the times and completely accepted all of us. Now, I'm not saying she accepted EVERYTHING we did or proposed -- she was, above all, sane -- but she knew instinctively how and when to apply her magical and unrelenting support.

Melanie Brown: Dear Marie....hard working, kind, brought out the best (and the best work!) in all of us. I remember one work assignment I received from her, that I didn't really want to do. My thinking was, OK, just get it done, it'll only be this one time. Nooooo, she thought I did such a fine job, I should continue as the regular for this assignment. I think she secretly knew that I was less than enthused Marie and Carl - can't imagine Frost Valley without them.

Dave King: Shirley, Kathy, and I will rejoice in our many fond memories of her. That her passing was peaceful is a blessing. Dave       

Gail Catherine McNeil: "AL!! Counters are for glasses! Not for- AAAAAAhahahahaha!" How we loved her, and how we will always love and remember her. Cheerful and indefatigable, linens, laundry, the kitchen, and perhaps most adorably in the bad ol' pre-Wellness cheeseburger- and root-beer-float days of the staff lounge. Hessie, the one-and-only.

Peggy Hope: Both Hessie and Carl played a big part in my life and everyone else that knew them as is evidenced by all the responses.  How fitting it is for her memorial service to be on Valentine's day as she was everyone's sweet heart. She was the prototype for the energizer bunny but better and irreplaceable though she wouldn't take any credit for what she did.  There was nothing she couldn't do.  I am thrilled that they will be inducted into the hall of fame and I know they will both be there in spirit. As an "older" alumna I am so incredibly grateful to have known and worked with her and Carl and all those great pioneers of Frost Valley who were instrumental in creating a truly unique, nurturing, accepting and educational place where anyone who experiences it knows it is "home". 

Rafik Ghobrial: "Of all the people I have known, she was the best. She looked after everybody everyday of her life."