Donald "Jerry" Hess

Died: Thu., May 11, 2017

Mass of Christian Burial

11:00 AM Mon., May 15, 2017
Location: St. Joseph Catholic Church

Print Obituary   Home Page All Obituaries

Music by The Piano Brothers

 Donald “Jerry” Hess, 75, of Mishawaka, passed away May 11th, 2017 in the Center for Hospice Care, surrounded by his loving family. Jerry was born on December 13th, 1941 to the late Donald and Francetta Hess in Decatur, Indiana. He was also preceded in death by his brother, Terry Hess.

On October 29th, 1966, Jerry married the love of his life, MaryAnn Mikolajczak. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past October with extended family and friends. Jerry is survived by his wife MaryAnn and five children: Colleen Ravotto (Steve), Brendan, Mickey (Lynn) of Canton Ohio, Derron (Angel), and Amy Hess; 17 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He is also survived by sisters Sharon Nolan Steiner (Art) of Wentzville, Missouri and MaryAnn Peterson. His surviving brothers include Chris Hess (Debbie) of St. Charles, Missouri and Greg Hess (Lynn) and many nieces, nephews and cousins who loved him dearly.

Jerry worked as a teacher, counselor, and coach at Marian High School, Galien High School, Washington High School, as well as several schools in the South Bend Community until retirement in 2005. He held positions at AM General and Bendix in addition to working construction as his summer employment.

Coach Hess coached hundreds of area athletes from Mishawaka Catholic in football and wrestling as well as baseball at East End Little League. He shared his knowledge and passion for the sports, particularly football, beginning with his sons and his grandsons. There were not many Friday nights where Jerry was not at a local football game coaching or cheering on his family. He had a profound and lasting effect on those he coached. He also had a soft spot for his daughters and granddaughters as they too shared his passion for sports. His granddaughter, Caity also exposed him to the world of theater with her beautiful singing.

Jerry served in the United States Marines. He was very patriotic and proud of his country. His love of history and extensive knowledge on the subject made him a good history teacher. He also loved music with a particular passion for “the oldies.” Jerry was an excellent drummer and had a lot of fun with his famous,“ Broom Band.” He loved the great outdoors and fishing with his family at Big Smith Lake. He shared many wonderful memories with MaryAnn as they vacationed in Florida during the winter. His only regret was that he was not able to get back to the YMCA to play handball with the guys.

His hope never wavered as he struggled with diabetes and other health issues. He had a strong belief in God and passed his Catholic faith onto his five children. It has been this faith that has sustained his family in his final days. Jerry was a man with a big personality and a bigger heart. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends, but he did what he intended to do with his life; he made a difference.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11:00 a.m. Monday, May 15th, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 225 S. Mill Street, Mishawaka, IN, 46544, with private burial immediately following at Fairview Cemetery. As per Jerry’s wishes the family will be holding a private visitation.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jerry’s memory to St. Joseph Catholic Church, 225 S. Mill Street, Mishawaka, IN 46544 or Center for Hospice and Palliative Care at 111 Sunnybrook Ct, South Bend, IN 46637. The family would like to thank Dr. Kvietkus, Wendy, and Amber, The ICU nurses at St. Joe and Dr. Zimmerman who spent so much time with us, and all the nurses and volunteers at Hospice House for their special care, kindness, and support for the entire family. Welsheimer Family Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements. Family and friends may leave email condolences at

Charitable donations may be made in Donald's memory to the following organizations:

Center for Hospice Care,
501 Comfort Ln., Mishawaka, IN, 46545

Saint Joseph Catholic Church
225 South Mill Street, Mishawaka, IN 46544

Click to send flowers using our local area florist
Direct website to florist ordering, saving on wire fees
View/Sign the Condolence Book

Click the button to generate a printable document containing all condolences submitted

Condolence Booklet

Connie Moore
   Posted Sat May 13, 2017
I am sending prayers to have God wrap his loving arms around Jerry's family members, friends, and the many. many athletes he coached off and on the courts/fields. Jerry appeared to be a tough and strict coach but at the same time he had a heart filled with love for the youth he coached. When Tony Moore died in the 1994 airplane crash, Jerry expressed his love in a newspaper article in memory of the male child he knew as Tony D Moore. Every now and then, I reread Jerry's article and smile. A coach with a big heart will always be remembered.

John & Michelle Hess
   Posted Sat May 13, 2017
So Sorry to here of Jerry's passing. Please accept our deepest sympathies and prayers. Each time that we met Jerry, He always showed us the utmost respect which I believe was just in his nature. John & Michelle Hess Decatur,IN.

Marilyn Horvath
   Posted Sat May 13, 2017
My sincerest condolences to Jerry Hess' family. Jerry always spoke so highly, proudly and
with affection about his family.
We had many interesting discussions and a few laughs while working together when Jerry was a counselor. He truly did care about others and made a significant difference in many
lives, both young and old alike.

Marilyn Horvath

Chris and Lisa Long
   Posted Sat May 13, 2017
We are so sorry for your loss, we are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

Ross & Linda perri
   Posted Sun May 14, 2017
Heartfelt condolences to the family of jerry hess. We will miss him dearly.

Brian Hess
   Posted Sun May 14, 2017
My deepest condolences to Jerry's family . Always remembered that big smile of his when he and his family would come to see us in Decatur .

Carolyn Cleaver
   Posted Sun May 14, 2017
Derron and the Hess Family: My prayers are with you at this difficult time, may you all find comfort and peace in memories of Mr. Hess

Jim Draskovits
   Posted Sun May 14, 2017
Condolences to the Hess family. He was a very good Catholic and helped many young kids. I knew Jerry since I was about 18 or19 years old.

Mike Vaszari
   Posted Sun May 14, 2017
Jerry Hess was a lifelong friend. I knew him from our grade school days at Holy Cross school. In 1957 we formed a rock and roll band called "The Vibratos". We remained close friends throughout the years and in recent years we gathered once a week for breakfasts together with friends we grew up with. We loved Jerry and we ask God to love him, too as he welcomes coach into heaven. R.I.P Jerry Hess. Mike Vaszari South Bend, In.

Marc Cripe
   Posted Sun May 14, 2017
Please accept my condolences. Coach Hess was the best coach I ever had, bar none. He taught me to revel in challenge. His fire was contagious and was only tempered by his sharp wit. As I now coach my kids, I often find myself quoting Coach Hess.

Cindy Sochocki
   Posted Mon May 15, 2017
Sending my deepest sympathy to Jerry's family. He will be sorely missed by all who knew "Coach Hess".

Cindy Sochocki
Swanson School

Randy, Ginny & Evan Fras
   Posted Mon May 15, 2017
We are so sorry to hear of the loss of your father. There is no greater loss than losing a parent/grandparent but what a wonderful family you have to carry on his memories. Know that time will heal this emptiness and we will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers.

Christopher Costello
   Posted Mon May 15, 2017
Dear Hess Family,
I started hang'n at Mrs Hess' house soon after your father died. Jerry was the father figure for all of us, not only for his youngest siblings Chris and Greg, but also for all the rest of us hangers on, his common-law stepkids. We deserved his stern reprimands. Can I still apologize? He was a good father. He loved us. I'm sorry for your loss.

Susan Petersen
   Posted Mon May 15, 2017
The emptiness you feel will be filled with all the good memories of Jerry. Let them surround you and bring comfort to your family. Jerry made friends wherever he went and all remember his athletic expertise. But I remember Jerry as an intellectual as well. The man loved to read and was so capable of a good discussion. I will miss our talks!

   Posted Tue May 16, 2017
In this difficult time may the God of all comfort and his promises of the time when there will be no more death and we can again enjoy life with those we’ve lost bring you comfort. (Revelation 21:3, 4)

Vicki Lee
   Posted Tue May 16, 2017
I was unable to attend the church service, I was there in spirit and with prayers for your family. Jerry was great guy!!

Carolyn Cleaver
   Posted Tue May 16, 2017
Derron and Family You are in my prayers at this time Carolyn Cleaver

Patti Glascoe
   Posted Wed May 17, 2017
Colleen and family, I am very sorry for your loss. It is with great believe and understanding that I am sure your Dad is in a better place where and he has no pain. (((hugs)))

Patrick B.
   Posted Tue May 30, 2017
Condolences to Jerry's family. We all look forward to the promise at Isaiah 33:24 – “no resident will say, I am sick”. Our enemy death, will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8). When these promises are fulfilled, we will enjoy life the way our Grand Creator purposed for us…forever. (Psalms 37:11, 29)