Stephen Thomas Hess

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Funeral Services for Stephen Hess, 68 of Earlham, were held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at the First Presbyterian Church in Earlham. Johnson Family Funeral Home in Earlham was in charge of the arrangements. Interment was in the Earlham Cemetery.
It was on April 10, 1944, when Stephen Thomas Hess was ushered in the family of Chris and Lois Brauch Hess in Exira, Iowa. Steve was also welcomed into the family by his older brother, Paul and passed away Dec. 11, 2012 at the Taylor Hospice House in Des Moines.
Steve attended grade school and graduated from Exira Community School with the class of 1962. Steve attended college at Northwest Missouri State University, in Maryville, Mo., Grandview College and Drake University in Des Moines.
To help cover the cost of education, Steve worked during high school in Exira and thereafter in Des Moines at various grocery stores, working his way into management positions. Much of his college education was gained in his off-hours of working.
Steve met the love of his life, Ellie Benz, while working in Des Moines and the two were married on Nov. 6, 1965. The newlyweds moved to a farm acreage near Dexter, commuted to work in Des Moines, and raised hogs in their spare time.
In 1968, Steve and Ellie started a family with the birth of their first child, daughter Shannon.
In 1970, the Hess family moved to Tucson, Ariz., for a change of scenery, new work opportunities, and to be closer to Steve's parents who had moved to Tucson earlier. During their stay in Tucson their second daughter, Shondel was born.
In 1974, the Hess family moved to Earlham to purchase the local grocery store. Steve owned and managed the store until 1987. Also during this period, Steve started a second business, Hess Auction Services, conducting household, consignment, and farm auctions across Madison and Dallas counties. Following the sale of the grocery store in Earlham, Steve began working at Associated Grocers of Iowa in Ankeny. He began as a buyer and was promoted to sales manager for the company.
In 1989, Steve left AGI to start another business, a brokerage firm for meat products, handling the marketing functions and transactions for various meat, fish, and poultry processors throughout the Midwest.
In 1991, Steve was approached by a number of citizens in Earlham to re-open the grocery store. After strong consideration, he made the move to open the store to the delight of the entire Earlham community. Several citizens pitched in to help clean, remodel, and re-stock the store.
In 1999, a handful of Earlham residents, including Steve, spearheaded an effort to construct a new community center to accommodate larger community activities. Steve assisted with multiple fund-raising ventures, including a number of auctions of donated goods.
Also during the '90's, Steve started a management consulting business in his spare time in which he counseled small business owners across the state of Iowa to improve their operations. This business also entailed holding various workshops and seminars in marketing and management strategies. Steve and Ellie would work in tandem on their daycare operation and consulted other daycare centers which were struggling.
Steve sold the grocery store in Earlham in 2002. He continued with auctions, consulting, and began working part-time with the Dallas County Conservation Department providing grounds maintenance among several county properties. By 2006, he had to step back from outside employment because of increasing health problems. But he continued with maintenance duties for their apartment units and the daycare operation.
One of Steve's true passions in life was traveling. He really loved traveling to Tucson during the winters of his later years. Steve and Ellie enjoyed spending time with their Tucson friends each year and visiting new places of interest. Steve also relived the memories of a special trip sightseeing and camping in the New England states a few years ago. Camping at the State Fair was also an annual treat and a high priority for the Hess's. Their camper at the fairgrounds was always full of friends and grandkids.
Steve loved the outdoor life shown by his trail rides in Wyoming, his work at Kuehn Conservation Center, his summer home at Lake Okoboji, and his love for fishing. He has always loved horses, mastering the art of breaking saddle horses while in high school, and keeping horses under his wing throughout his life.
Another passion centered around woodworking. Steve's backyard wood shop contains a myriad of woodworking tools that he has used to turn out hundreds of items for grandchildren and for daycare toys. The love of woodworking even spilled over to Tucson where Steve used his lathe to turn out gifts and souvenirs to everyone who visited the Arizona getaway.
Steve has always been known for his knack for reaching out to help others. Being a prominent citizen of Earlham, he was active in the Earlham Business Association, served on the fire department, the Earlham city council, the Jaycees, and the Lions Club. Steve was instrumental in jump starting the July 4th celebration in Earlham, as well as the band stand in the city park. He would unexpectedly drop in on shut-ins to leave a quart of soup that he had made the day before. For these reasons and many others, Steve and Ellie were named King and Queen of the July 4th celebration 2009.

Preceding Steve in passing was his parents, Chris and Lois Hess.

Steve Hess is survived by beloved wife, Ellie, of 47 years, daughter, Shannon and husband George Ashman of Granger, and their sons, Taylor and Cole, and their daughter, Brayten; daughter, Shondel and husband Chad Beaman of Humboldt, and their daughters, Kendra, Kirstyn and Kali. Also surviving is Steve's brother, Paul of Exira and sister-in-law, Dorothy Benz Dirkson and brother-in-law, Ron Dirkson, of North Canton, Ohio, nephew, Justin Hess and wife Michelle of St. Louis, Missouri, nephew, Darren Dirkson and children, of North Canton, Ohio, niece, Darcy Morris and husband Joe and children of Wadsworth, Ohio, and a host of relatives and friends, all of whom will miss him greatly.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Stephen Hess Memorial Fund in care of Johnson Family Funeral Home, PO Box 171, Earlham, Iowa 50072. Online condolences may be left at

Published in AUDUBON COUNTY ADVOCATE JOURNAL from Dec. 21 to Dec. 28, 2012