• Donald Gilford Hess

    Birth: July 19, 1939 | Died: June 28, 2023

    Don Hess, a beloved father, grandfather, brother and friend left this world on June 28, 2023, at the age of 83. His passing has left an irreplaceable void in the hearts of all who were fortunate enough to know and love him. Don’s legacy is one of kindness, adventure and love. His memory will be forever cherished by those whose lives he touched.

    Born on July 19, 1939, Don, affectionately known as “Shorty,” was the son of Rudolph & Hazel Elizabeth Himmelrick Hess. He grew up in Chilicothe, Illinois. On May 2, 1957, Don joined the Navy and served our great country with honor. Don ultimately moved to Orange County, California, where he resided for over 60 years. As an incredibly skilled carpenter, inventor, builder and business owner, Don used his gifts of creation, ingenuity and resourcefulness to build houses, lakes, roads, lasers and many other breathtaking structures and inventions that still stand as a testament to his craftsmanship. But while he was an incredibly talented builder, he was so much more than his profession, as he spent his life mastering various trades and exploring his many interests and passions. Don was a father, grandfather, brother, cousin and son. He was also a pilot, Sailor, cowboy, fisherman, hunter, collector, gardener, locksmith, inventor and adventurer. Don’s inventive mind was always in motion, constantly seeking new adventures and discoveries. Whether he was tinkering with machinery or researching antiquities, he was always learning and innovating.

    Don lived his life with incredible curiosity and a love for the great outdoors. He was always driven by his love for discovery and adventure. From discovering a long forgotten ghost town to teaching his kids to pan for gold, Don’s curiosity and love of great outdoors always seemed to lead him on incredible journeys to the unknown. And with wings as his accomplice, he took to the skies as a skilled pilot, embracing the freedom and adventure that flying offered. To Don, life was all about the adventure of the treasure hunt, not the treasure. It was the magic of discovery and the unknown that drove him.

    As we say goodbye to Don and his adventurous spirit, his friends and loved ones take solace in knowing that he will continue to live in all of our hearts. Don was larger than life - a legend to those who knew him. He was a kind and caring soul that did things his way. There will never be another Don Hess. He will be deeply missed. His legacy of love, strength and kindness will continue to guide his friends and family as they navigate life’s challenges. Those that knew him will always be reminded of the profound impact he had on all of our hearts and lives. His departure leaves a void in the lives of all who knew and loved him.

    Don is survived by his daughter Monique Conijn (Marcus) of the Netherlands, Todd Hess of Lincoln, Nebraska, Brian Hess (Laura) of LaHabra Heights, California, Kristine Tevis (Shaun) of Gretna, Nebraska, Kimberly Haywood (Mike) of Elkhorn, Nebraska, his brother Larry, and his twin brother Ron. He is also survived by numerous relatives and friends who will forever cherish the memories they shared with him.

    A private service was held with his children at Hilgenfeld Mortuary in Anaheim on Saturday, July 1, 2023. A memorial service and celebration of life will be arranged at a later time. Extended family and friends are encouraged to contact brianhess9@gmail.com for further details. Don Hess, our fearless and kind-hearted father, will forever remain in our hearts, and his spirit will continue to inspire and remind us to pursue our passions, explore our talents and savor every moment. May he rest in eternal peace.

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