Mom made a lot of sacrifices for other people over the years, but when it came to me and what I wanted to do with my life, she was my biggest cheerleader — always, always encouraging me to follow my heart and telling me that I CAN DO IT. When I told her that I wanted to be an artist, she could have given me a mile long list why that would be impractical, not a good decision, not realistic, etc., but she knew how important it was to me and bought me my monotype press, which I use every single week. Her gift to me was a vote of confidence, and I think about her every time I am in the studio. I am so thankful that I got the mom that I got. She is missed. Mom died May 28, 2013.
Here is the obituary that my sister and I wrote together:
Theresa Donalea (Donna) Davis Hesse, age 82, succumbed to the ravages of dementia and Parkinson’s disease on May 28th, 2013 in Mesa, Arizona. Donna is survived by her husband Eugene Hesse, daughters Ruth Hesse of Seattle, Washington and Marian Hesse (Bruce Barrie) of Greeley, Colorado and her brothers, Dale Davis of South Sioux City, Nebraska and Bill Davis of Loveland, Colorado.
She is predeceased by her sisters Nadine Davis, Betty Davis Chambers, and Peggy Davis Haycraft. She was the daughter of Myrtle Bedford Davis and Will Davis and was raised by her father and her step-mother, Pearl Davis.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Donna was a registered nurse and worked for many years at Northern Colorado Medical Center. She was one of the first flight nurses when Flight for Life began in Greeley, Colorado in the 1970’s. Donna had a deep love of nursing and helping people. Intelligent, practical and hardworking, she was greatly loved by her family and co-workers for those qualities and her sense of humor.
She began her nursing career after graduating from the University of Nebraska and quickly found herself as head nurse of the operating room. She married Eugene Hesse in 1957 and followed him to Ogden, Utah and Denver, Colorado as he completed his medical internship and residency. Though she did not work as a nurse while her children were young, Donna returned to nursing in Greeley, Colorado after a 10 year break from the field. She began by volunteering at the hospital in Greeley, and was quickly asked to join the staff. She returned to her love of emergency medicine, working a wacky schedule of alternate Thursdays and alternate weekends and most holidays. Since her children were older, she felt it was important for the younger staff members to have the opportunity to spend Christmas Eve and New Year’s with their own families.
Donna was an avid fan of the Denver Broncos and the Denver Nuggets and only transferred her allegiance to the Arizona Diamondbacks when she and Gene Hesse retired to Mesa, Arizona. When the Diamondbacks won the World Series, she cried, she was so thrilled.
To her daughters, Donna Hesse was not only a mother, but a friend and a supporter of dreams and ideals. When both of children made the shocking decision to have careers in the arts, she encouraged them to live their lives as they wanted. Her emotional and financial support paved the way for Marian’s successful music career as a performer and teacher. Donna’s generous gift of an etching press in 1996, made possible the artistic career of daughter Ruth. Donna’s own love of the arts came from being a ballerina during high school, a love of the music of Johnny Cash, and a seldom used talent for drawing.
Donna designed the Hesse family home in West Greeley. Beginning with three inch tall plants from the American Forest Service trees and K-mart garden department discards, Donna created a three acre tree filled oasis, which was often referred to as “Hesse Park”.
One of her favorite sayings, which her daughters frequently say to each other:
“Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”
Dad died May 23, 2014.
Eugene Joseph Hesse
b. December 11, 1928 d. May 23, 2014
“A Great Guy”
Eugene Joseph ‘Doc’ Hesse, 85, passed away in hospice in Mesa, Arizona
Friday, May 23, 2014 after a devastating fall. His daughters were able to
make it to his side before his unexpected passing.
‘Doc’ Hesse was born in Nebraska in 1928 to Edward and
Hesse volunteered for service in the US Army during the Korean War
during which he received training as a surgical technician, and his aptitude
led him to a career in medicine. He wrote to his sister, Agnes, weekly
describing his experiences. Those experiences in the Korean War as part
of the first MASH unit (the 8055th) were part of the TV series History vs.
Hollywood M*A*S*H: Comedy Under Fire (2001). Many of his photos from
his time as a surgical technician were featured on the show. With the help
of many people, he hosted two reunions of the members of the 8055
MASH unit, one in Greeley, Colorado and one in Mesa, Arizona.
‘Doc’ Hesse attended medical school at the University of Nebraska where
he was described by his classmates as a ‘stabilizing influence’ and as a
While in medical school, he met Donna Davis, whom he married in
1957. They had two daughters, Marian and Ruth. Gene and Donna both
attended St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greeley and were members of the
Greeley County Club. Their marriage lasted for 56 years, until Donna
passed away in May of 2013, after a prolonged battle with multi-infarct
After Hesse’s medical residency in Denver, Gene and Donna moved to
Keenesburg, Colorado, where Gene got his start as a general
practitioner. Along with his friend and fellow doctor, Wayne “Nick” Nichols,
Hesse founded and built the Keene Family Medical Clinic, which still runs
strong today. In 1969, Hesse moved his family and his medical practice to
Greeley, Colorado. Doc Hesse rounded out his career at the LaSalle
Medical Clinic, just outside of Greeley. Upon his retirement from general
practice, the staff at the North Colorado Medical Center presented him with
the “Good Guy” award, which he treasured even more than his golf
Hesse retired in Mesa, Arizona, where he fell in with “The Wild Bunch”, a
rogue contingent of golfers at the Arizona Golf Resort. Ignoring
temperatures of up to 116 degrees, Hesse golfed with the Wild Bunch
every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Hesse golfed as long as he
physically could, until 2012. Unwilling to relinquish his clubs entirely, he
spent the next two years coaching his daughters and son-in-law on the
correct way to use a 63 degree lob wedge, with a moderate degree of
success. ‘Doc’ Hesse’s Golf Tips can be viewed on YouTube at
Hesse’s other great love was fishing. While living in Greeley, he and
fishing buddy Joe Gonzalez would regularly head up to the Sage and Sand
hotel in Saratoga, WY to fish Brush Creek. In later years, Hesse wanted
to take one last fishing trip to his friend Bill Beck’s ranch in Colorado. Due
to the high altitude, he had to turn back and never got to take that
trip. Later this summer, Doc Hesse, along with his wife Donna, will return
for one last trip together, to the river, forever.
Hesse is remembered by his family and friends as “A Good Guy”. We will
miss his stories about Vernon Sidbeck and his adventures with Sister
Gemma in Catholic School, his off-color jokes, and his unique vocabulary
and turns of phrase. In the words of Doc Hesse, “Rotsa ruck, stay in the
short grass, and never apologize.” And last but not least, “Aww,
Doc Hesse is survived by daughter Ruth Hesse, daughter Marian Hesse,
son-in-law Bruce Barrie, sisters Agnes Ankeny and Dorothy Whittle, and
brother Robert ‘Bob’ Hesse. He is preceded in death by his wife, Donna
Hesse, and brothers James and Edward Hesse.
A memorial was held at the Arizona Golf Resort in Mesa, Arizona. For
further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Memorial contributions may be sent to:
Eugene ‘Doc’ Hesse and Donna Hesse Scholarship Fund
c/o University of Northern Colorado Foundation
Judy Farr Center
Campus Box 20
Greeley, CO 80639