Virginia Klaus Hess, a world-renowned artist and sculptor from the Miami Valley, passed away on Tuesday at the Sycamore Springs Rehabilitation Facility in Miamisburg. She was 98 years old. Hess received thousands of dollars in grants for Miami Valley arts organizations throughout her lifetime. She was born and raised in New Carlisle and spent her entire life in western Ohio.
Hess began her education at the Dayton Art Institute when she was eleven years old, thanks to a scholarship she won. She continued to attend the institute throughout her high school years in New Carlisle. During World War II, she worked as an illustrator at Paterson Air Force Base, producing many aircraft silhouettes for identification purposes. She received her 1994 Ohioana Arts Field Award for her work during this time.
Hess is famous for her 29 bronze busts of Charlie Taylor, the first aircraft mechanic to work for the Wright brothers. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, including at Carillon Park, Wright State University, and the National Air Force Museum in the Dayton area.
Hess married Fredrik Herr Hess in 1946, and the couple raised three children. They owned and operated a hardware store in the Dayton area, including the Hess Hardware Do-It Center. Her husband passed away in 2006.
Hess’s memorial service will take place on November 7, which is also Election Day. Instead of flowers, the Hess family asks that people either buy art to admire or donate in her name to the Dayton Institute of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Springfield Art Museum, the Rosewood Art Center through the Kettering Parks Foundation, or Wright State University.