Richard Denny Hess, a longtime resident of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, passed away in Napa, California, on February 13, 2020, after a brief illness. He was 85.
Denny was born June 26, 1934 in Monroe, Washington, to Henry “Hank” and Evelyn “Toddy” Hess, the eldest of their two children. He and his brother, Allen “Pete” Hess spent their childhood in rural Washington, hunting, fishing, camping and enjoying the outdoors.
In 1952 the Hess family moved to Smith River and Denny attended Del Norte High School. He joined the Army after high school and was stationed in Germany.
In 1957, Denny married Arlene Miller in a ceremony at the Methodist Church in Smith River. They had two children, Cindy, born in 1958, and Rick, born in 1960. They were married for 45 years until Arlene’s death in 2002.
While living in Smith River, Denny worked as a manager for Simonson Lumber Company. He was a member of the Masonic lodge and moved through the chairs to become the youngest Master Mason in California at that time. Denny was also a member of the Smith River American Legion Post, and a past president of the Smith River Kiwanis where he spearheaded the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery project. He was also active in Boy Scouts as a troop leader.
In 1975, Denny and Arlene moved to Arcata where he took over the family business, Bracut Lumber. While in Arcata, he continued his involvement with Kiwanis and was also a member of Eureka’s Ingomar Club.
Denny enjoyed an early retirement and he and Arlene travelled extensively: Europe, Egypt, Turkey, Japan, the Caribbean, and many places in the United States. They built a house in Willow Creek and another on Oahu’s North Shore. They spent summers and springs in Willow Creek and winters in Hawaii. Denny was known among family, friends and neighbors, for his extensive vegetable garden and orchard, which he nurtured on the Willow Creek property. Denny always looked forward to his Alaskan “adventures” aboard the Drifter with his many friends. Denny not only loved catching halibut, crab, shrimp and salmon, but truly enjoyed creating gourmet meals using them. Needless to say, the galley always ended up far cleaner than when he started. While motoring in the skiff, more than once Denny was known to say “we’re too close!! Back off-Back off!” Denny liked a good frying pan, and a really sharp knife (Arlene kept band aids in the same drawer as the kitchen knives), prime rib, smoked ribs and salmon, and a good crunchy apple out of the orchard. He enjoyed canning from the orchard, he was famous for his Asian plum sauce, canned tuna from the Drifter, and for some truly strange concoctions in the kitchen. Not all of his experiments were a success.
In 2003, Denny gained a new lease on life, as well as a second family, when he married Joan Brace and was accepted by her three sons and their families. He and Joan found they had much in common: they were both widowed and had been close friends with each other’s first spouses. They shared a love of travel, abalone, good wine, and Hawaiian luaus.
Denny and Joan enjoyed travelling and splitting their time between the three family homes in Willow Creek, Napa, and Hawaii.
Denny is survived by Joan, his wife of 16 years; daughter Cindy Jansen (Mark) of Cloverdale; son Rick Hess of Palm Springs; brother Pete Hess (Shirley) of McKinleyville; Step-children, Perry Brace(Debbie) of Napa, Steven Brace of Napa and Robert Brace (Nichole) of Winters ; Four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Hank and Toddy Hess; and his first wife, Arlene Hess.
Per Denny’s wishes, he will be cremated, and no funeral held. A celebration of life is being planned for late spring or early summer at the Willow Creek house where family and friends will be invited. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in memory of Denny to Disabled American Veterans http://www.dav.org/
Deny said when it was time, he was ready to go because he had had a great life and great friends…
He will be missed.