John R. ‘Jack’ Hesse
John Ronald Hesse (Jack), loving husband, father and grandfather, passed away on August 7, 2017 at the age of 83. Born on November 16, 1933, Jack grew up in New Haven with his parents John Hesse and Helen Murphy. His father died when Jack was 19 years old. Jack attended Hopkins School in New Haven followed by Mount Hermon in Gill, Massachusetts. He graduated Yale University in 1956, and Harvard Business School in 1959. Jack was a man of intellect, curiosity, and compassion. An avid reader, he was intrigued by politics, peoples lives, and their life accomplishments. He beamed at any mention of his children’s and grandchildren’s names. Jack was known for his green thumb, and found tranquility in gardening. He had a great love for animals, especially dogs, and was a benefactor of the Buddy Dog Humane Society. He loved football, playing squash and tennis, and skating with his mens hockey league until he was 63. Jack proudly attended, watched on television, or listened by radio to every Yale football and Yale hockey game from 1949 to 2014. As an entrepreneur, investment banker, and venture capitalist, Jack founded, financed and led several highly successful companies in the horticultural and biotechnology sectors. In 1968, Jack served as President, CEO and Chairman of American Garden Products, the largest wholesale distributor of garden products in the US, which he brought public. In 1981, he founded one of the first biotechnology venture capital firms, providing start-up financing to companies such as Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB), Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG), IDEXX Laboratories (NASDAQ: IDXX), Genzyme (acquired by Sanofi), and Genentech (acquired by Roche). Jack served on the boards of IDEXX Laboratories, United AgriSeeds (Dow Chemical), Twyford International (British American Tobacco), Hannaford Brothers Company, Chromcraft Revington, and the Yale Development Board. He also served as Trustee and Executive Committee Member of the Massachusetts Horticulture Society and as Member of The Visiting Committee of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. Jack established a bioscience scholarship fund at Yale University in 1977, which continues to grant scholarships. Jack and his wife Catha Prior Hesse met in New York City, and were married for 54 years. After New York City, they lived briefly in Princeton, New Jersey, then moved to Weston, Massachusetts to raise their family. They spent many happy Summers on Fishers Island playing tennis, golf, and occasionally sailing Widgeons or Bullseyes. Jack also served as President of The Hay Harbor Club at Fishers and was a member of the Union Boat Club in Boston for twenty years. Jack is survived by his wife Catha and their three children Chris Hesse and his wife Merridith; Alicia Hesse-Cleary and her husband Rick Cleary of Concord, Massachusetts; John Hesse and his wife Kathleen Chambers of Denver, Colorado; and his sister Patricia Hesse and her partner Karen Mundy of Falls Church, Virginia. His grandchildren are Olivia Prior Cleary, Amelia Mallam Cleary, and Leona Skye Hesse. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Friday, September 22 at Trinity Church, Concord, Massachusetts, followed by refreshments at 77 Wood Street, Concord, Massachusetts.
Published by The Weston Town Crier from Aug. 19 to Aug. 31, 2017.