Katharine “Kay” Hess

Katharine “Kay” Hess

Stoughton – Katharine “Kay” Hess died late in the evening of June 20th at her home in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

She was 87 years old. The daughter of the Reverend Frederick W. and Lois Helfer, Kay was born in Illinois, as a child often moving to follow her father’s ministerial posts. During WWII she attended Columbus High School near Fort Benning, Georgia, where her father, the youngest Chaplain with the A.E.F. in WWI was now First Chaplain of the sprawling military base. Kay graduated from Catonsville High School in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland, where her father became minister of the Christian Temple after the war. Kay sang in the high school A Cappella Choir that often performed on a local radio station.

Kay Hess received a bachelor degree from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia, a school and town steeped in her family’s history. She majored in English and Psychology, with an eye towards becoming a teacher. She returned to Catonsville, Maryland, and worked towards her teaching certificate at Maryland State Teachers College at Towson even as she taught 3rd grade.

At the Unitarian Universalist Church in Sarasota, Florida, she married Charles Hess, and raised a son and daughter with him. The family migrated to Stoughton, Wisconsin, in 1965 so that Chuck could return to his studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kay took a teaching position with the Stoughton School district, attracted by the beauty of the town and the friendliness of the people. She taught 2nd grade for a couple of seasons at the old South School, and then 4th grade at Yahara Elementary School until she retired at the age of 62. Years later she could still remember the names of her students and was thrilled to follow the course their lives had taken. Politically and socially minded, Kay volunteered for many years at Stoughton polling sites and with the local food pantry. Kay is held fondly in the memory of her many friends, colleagues, and former students.

Beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, Kay Hess is survived by her husband of over fifty years, Charles S. Hess; son Frederick Scott Hess and his wife Gita Tabatabai; daughter Patty Censky and her husband Tom Censky; and four grandchildren, Hadley Wells Campbell, Ava Katarina Hess, Maxwell Miner Pape, and Atiyeh Mehri Hess.

Graveside services will be held at Riverside Cemetery, Stoughton, WI at 1:00pm, Saturday, June 24. Friends and relatives are asked to meet at Veteran’s Park on the corner of South Page Street and Riverside Drive.