Michael Lee Hess MD
August 10, 1942 – April 13, 2019
Michael Lee Hess MD was born in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania to Russell Hess and Leona Johnson Hess on August 10, 1942. He lost his 9 year battle with cancer at age 76 on April 13, 2019 in Richmond, VA. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Andrea Hastillo (MD) Hess; their only child Samantha (Mandy) Hastillo Hess Hudson MD and her husband Mark Hudson and his granddaughters Sophie Hastillo Hudson & Ziva Chaharyn Hudson all of Richmond, VA; his brother Joseph Hess and his wife Janet of Cheswick, PA; his niece Maria Lynn (Hess) Collins and her husband Jon and their 4 children of Furlong, PA; and his nephew Jason Hess, his wife Meghann, and their daughter of Pittsburg, PA.
Dr. Hess obtained his undergraduate degree in 1964 at St. Francis University in Loretto, PA. He earned his Medical Degree in 1968 from the University of Pittsburg, staying there for his Residency and Chief Residency. He earned a Young Investigators Award from the American College of Cardiology in 1972. He pursued additional medical training in Cardiology at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and through the US Navy. He served his country as a Cardiologist at Portsmouth Naval Hospital from July 1973 to July 1975, attaining the rank of Lt. Commander and earning a Fleet Commendation in Medical Education.
Dr. Hess moved to Richmond, VA and joined the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) in 1971 in the Department of Physiology, and upon discharge from the Navy, additionally joined the Department of Internal Medicine in 1975. He was appointed to Professor of Medicine in Cardiology in 1980. From 1981 to 1982, he served as the first President of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, an organization he co-founded. From 1982 to 1991, and then 1999 to 2002, he was the Director of the Heart Failure Transplantation Program. Dr. Hess would serve as Acting Chairman for the VCU Division of Cardiology from July 1988 to 1989, and as Chairman of the Division of Cardiology’s Laboratories and Research. Starting in 2002, he was the Director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program during which time VCU began utilizing the Total Artificial Heart. In 2013, influenced by his cancer experiences, he established VCU’s Cardio-Oncology Program and acted as its director until his retirement in 2018. In these roles he published over 200 research papers, served as an editor for nearly 40 publications, and authored or edited 3 full length books. Upon his death, he was writing the history of MCV from its founding through today, including its name change to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System.
Beyond his MCV/VCU work, highlights from his extensive CV include multiple projects with the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, international collaborations with the Canadian Heart Foundation, and space based research with NASA.
He was involved in numerous societies including the American Physiological Society, both the Southern and American Society for Clinical Investigation, and as a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association. Already a member of Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), the medical honor society, he was most proud upon the induction of both his wife and daughter to AOA in 2007.
Dr. Hess was fiercely devoted to teaching and patient care, being a passionate clinician. However, he was equally engaged with his students including cardiology fellows, PhD students, postdoctoral trainees, medical students and other healthcare professionals. From this, he earned many awards. From his peers and patients he was voted into the Top Doctors in Richmond, Best Doctors in Virginia, and Best Doctors in America. From his medical students he was awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award 7 times, the Outstanding Teacher for Advanced Cardiovascular Physiology 4 times, and was awarded the Distinguished Clinical Care Award from the Department of Internal Medicine.
He earned 3 major university-wide honors including VCU’s Distinguished Scholarship Award in 1989, the Distinguished Clinician Award from the VCU Health System in 2003, and the University Award of Excellence in 2011.
Dr. Hess worked 364 days a year, only staying home that one day where there was too much ice on the road for even a Pennsylvanian native to drive. In what free time he had, he devoured novels of historical fiction and political thrillers and was an avid student of history. He made a spectacular beef stroganoff and taught both his daughter and oldest granddaughter the secrets of his recipe. He loved setting up luminaries every Christmas Eve and handing out poppies on Veteran’s Day, reminding everyone of the importance of respecting those who have served. He and his wife shared a love of the Pittsburg Steelers and their five rescue cats. He loved his family dearly and amongst his final directives were “Family First”.
Dr. Hess requested NO flowers; instead, asks for donations to one of three options in his memory: VCU Massey Cancer Center, or VCU Child Development Center, P.O. Box 980013, Richmond VA 23298, or St. Michael’s Episcopal School, 10510 Hobby Hill Rd. Richmond, VA 23235.
The family will hold both visiting hours Friday, April 26 from 6-8pm and a memorial service Saturday, April 27th at 2pm at Woody’s Funeral Home, 1020 Huguenot Rd, Midlothian, VA 23113.
Friday, April 26, 2019
Celebration of Life
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Michael Lee Hess MD
Ruth Reynolds Walker
May 6, 2019
I made this post on my Facebook page, in relation to the care my dad Jack Reynolds received from Dr. Hess. With my father's permission, I've meant to add it here since before the funeral (which my dad attended) and am finally doing so. Apologies for the delay:
A good doctor passed this week. I don’t know exactly when he became Daddy’s primary cardiologist managing the congestive heart failure and overseeing all other heart specialists involved, but it was a good 20 years. We had no idea of his full resume, we just knew he was a good, thorough doctor who at every appointment always gave Daddy important treatments you can’t get from a pill - his full attention and respect, a good laugh, and solid hope.
We have no doubt he was a major factor in Daddy’s continued health even at 90, after two quadruple bypasses (beginning in 1985), two angioplasties in between those, a pacemaker, and finally a defibrillator.
Cheers to Dr. Michael Hess. After a life of important, ‘heartfelt’ work that he clearly loved, may he rest In peace.
April 27, 2019
Mike will be remembered fondly and gratefully by so many patients and families. He will be missed by all of his colleagues and friends. I will always remember Mike's total commitment to his patients, his tenacity in working throughout his illness and of course, his great story-telling ability! Ya done good, Mike! My condolences to Andrea and Mandy and family.
April 24, 2019
Thank you Dr. Mike for all of your kindness and expertise. I am for ever grateful when you volunteered to assist us at The Richmond Area Blood Pressure.
God Bless your family as they carry on without you. You will always be remembered by so many grateful people. ~chris h.
April 23, 2019
First time I met Dr Hess in 1992 for cardiology fellowship interview and my admiration for him was natural. He had all the qualities of a clinician which a novice like me was trying to imbibe. I never had a opportunity to thank Dr Hess in person for a positive impact he had in my professional career. I am proud of some the papers which I coauthored with him. After decades of practicing medicine, when I talk to the patient some of his teachings still echo in my consciousness. May God Bless His Soul.
April 18, 2019
I found myself in the Critical Care Hospital in 2016 after a "crash & burn" with multiple myeloma and ameloidosys. I was in my hospital room when this guy in a white coat hits the place like a hurricane, sizes me up, issues orders right and left, and then looks at me and says "I know what you're going through. Don't let these people scare you ; you can do this". When he left, I asked someone "who was that wild man?" They said, "Mike Hess. Best doc you could hope to have." He shared some insights with me from his own experience with his cancer that had a huge impact on how I fought through that crisis. He had a wonderful mix of medical brilliance and humanity that comes along only rarely.
April 18, 2019
I have so many fond memories of Mike collected during my years as a PhD candidate, postdoc and Research Assistant Professor of Physiology working in his lab. As others have said, he was brilliant. He provided me with opportunities to work on cutting edge research, to author papers, to work on a collaborative project at St. Thomas's Hospital in London, and to present our findings at home and abroad. I am truly grateful. He will be missed.
April 17, 2019
Dr. Hess was one of my very favorite physicians to work for. He was always personable and his patients loved him. I will never forget him and how pleasantly he treated me.
April 17, 2019
As I was one of the first Member of the Society and having know dr. Hess in Stanford I feel so sorry and I want to express my closeness and condolences to the
Prof. Giuseppe Faggian
Director Department of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery
Director of Cardiovascular Surgery Unit
University Hospital AOUI Verona
University of Verona Medical School
Verona - Italy
Mary Ellen Olbrisch
April 17, 2019
Mike’s energy, dedication, and drive were such forces for excellence in patient care and advancing knowledge. He was a very special person who made everyone around him better. Andrea, I am so sorry for your loss. Along with you, the VCU community and Medicine have lost a giant.
April 16, 2019
I'm so sorry to hear about Mike's passing. He was the consummate teacher and clinician, and I always could count on him to be an advocate for the students when I worked in the dean's office. When I had my own cardiac issues, he was the first physician whose advice I sought. Our school and the medical center will sorely miss this wonderful physician.
April 16, 2019
I loved and will miss this man!! First met him on 10East in 1996 and continued to love him to the end. I remember the night shifts when Bruce, Tyler, and I would try to decipher the "double-blind studies" going on for heart failure. Dr. Hess would be so excited that we figured out the studies but upset that we breached them. He enjoyed the brain power that went into that!!
We had a running bet the Patriots and anyone who played them. Over the years the money went back and forth but he never gave up on his Pittsburg Steelers!!
When I was applying for Irish dual citizenship, he was more than happy to vouch for my character. Every time I saw him after this he asked when I was going. I was so happy to tell him a few months ago that the trip was booked and I was on my way!!!
I am so sorry for your loss at such a young age. He never forgot a face, nor did he ever not grieve for his patients. His best line was when he would say, "they are crying, can you please go fix it"
April 15, 2019
Mike was an icon of VCU. I knew Mike for almost 40 years, and I will miss his quick wit, inexhaustible energy, wise counsel and exuberance. But most of all I will miss the deep sense of humanity that he brought to every interaction. My prayers and thoughts are with all his family. Mike will be sorely missed.
Jo Ann Cummings (aka:Mitterer)
April 15, 2019
I worked with Dr. Hess for 32 years at MCV/VCU. He was brillant. The most knowledgeable man in Heart Failure and Medicine that I knew. He provided care for many patients, taught many medical students, co-workers and staff. He will be missed by all. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family.