remembering robert g. hess
Some good Philadelphia lawyers can never be replicated. Attorney Robert G Hess, a perfectly good man, died Thursday April 21, 2016, a few days short of 94 years old, leaving no mold for making another like him. Now the hundreds of people he touched will sorely miss him.
After a stint as a staff sergeant in the Signal Corps in World War II’s European Theatre, Mr. Hess, a graduate of Ursinus College, attended University of Pennsylvania Law School. There, he became a lawyer for all the right reasons – to help people, to solve problems, and to settle disputes. And he became successful at all three. The first in his family to become an attorney, Mr. Hess passed the Bar in 1948 and began working under Thomas Howland and Roger Melling, partners of a law firm in the Frankford section of Philadelphia. But after working in every type of law under the sun, he was drawn to the preparation of wills, settling estates, and helping clients to set up trusts. He felt that in these areas he helped clients, particularly older ones, deal with important life issues. In his own words, “What I enjoy most is representing older people who at this point in their lives need guidance, and it’s not only legal guidance. It’s where to live, how to live. Sometimes you feel like a minister or a priest.”
Mr. Hess was well respected for his service within the legal and lay communities. He was a past chairman and member of the board of directors of Aria Health (formerly Frankford Hospitals) and the board of directors of the Aria Health Foundation (formerly Frankford Hospital Foundation and the Wesley Enhanced Foundation (formerly Evangelical Manor Foundation). He was instrumental in their growth. He was counsel to several retirement facilities and in his customary style, continually offered his services to those around him, especially in his own retirement community, for free. He was a member and past president of the Frankford Lions Club, Jerusalem Lodge F & AM, the Scottish Rite and Lulu Temple. He was also the recipient of the Frankford High School’s prestigious Alumni Pioneer Award for his accomplishments and contributions to the community. When he won, he quoted from Russell Conwell’s book, Acres of Diamonds. “It is said that you can find all of the wealth and riches you need in your own backyard. I pointed out that my [first] office was two blocks from the high school.”
By the way, Mr. Hess’s devotion to community service was carried into his final year. When he found out that apartment-bound people in his retirement building weren’t always getting their morning newspapers, as documented in his last short story, “The Paperboy,” he took it upon himself to sort and deliver 40-some newspapers every morning with the help of his walker.
One of Mr. Hess’s differentiators was his wife of almost 70 years, Alberta. She would continually accompany him on his many legal missions, whether it was serving divorce papers or to clients’ homes to witness the signing of their wills. Until last year, he was still working a few mornings a week, and she was still travelling with him. People familiar with the couple, knew them as nearly inseparable, sharing a fondness for Disney World, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The only time Mr. Hess could be found apart from his wife was on the golf course and in the kitchen, where he exercised his talent as a culinary expert, preparing her dinner.
Robert G. Hess, Esq. died April 21, 2016 of heart failure in Attleboro Village, Langhorne, PA. He was the devoted ‘Best Friend and Husband’ for 69 years to Alberta M. (nee Davis) Hess and the perfect father of Dr. Robert G. Jr., RN (Evi Eskin, MD), Bruce D. ESQ. (Jennifer), Mark D. (Judy), and Susan L. Hess. He had nine grandchildren, two of whom predeceased him, including Jonathan M and Robert Hess, 3rd who died while serving in the US Coast Guard, and 5 Great-grandchildren.
Robert G. Hess