ST. CROIX — St. Croix has seen its fair share of individuals relocating to the island and making an impact on the community that far surpasses their physical presence. Paul Hess was one of those people. The longtime veterinarian died last month. He was 74.
Hess, born in Utica, Ill., in 1945, obtained all of his formal schooling there, ultimately graduating from University of Illinois School of Veterinary Medicine in 1970. He moved to St. Croix and began working in 1979 at Crago Animal Clinic, where he began making an impact on the community. He built bonds and friendships that would span more than four decades, according to Barbara Donaldson, a longtime employee.
Donaldson said that Hess opened Island Medical Clinic in 1993, and continued to impact the community through his love for animals, his employees and the community.
“He was just an amazing person to work for, always fun and funny and full of life,” she said. “He had a laugh that was just infectious, and you could always pick him out in a crowd just by the laugh.”
Donaldson said due to storms and other occurrences in his life, Hess decided to retire from the profession in 2012.
“I was hoping we would make it to celebrate 20 years in business, but he had other plans and wanted to retire at that point,” she said. He sold the business and it continued, but the location is now the Animal Welfare Clinic after their location was destroyed by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Hess also enjoyed golfing, cooking and was also an excellent sailor and an accomplished deep-sea diver.
“He was an all-around good guy, he was full of energy and was active in the community. Everyone loved him,” Donaldson said. “He did a lot and had lots of fun being a part of the plays at Caribbean Community Theater over the years.”
Hess developed health issues last December and moved back to Illinois with his companion Barbara Brennan, according to Donaldson. He died June 6 in Illinois.
Hess was a caring family man, Donaldson said.
He is survived by Brennan; his daughter, Yvette Hess and grandson, Croix Rivers, both of St. Croix. He is also survived by his brothers Glenn Hess, Kent Hess and other family and friends.
A celebration of life will take place on St. Croix later. The family requests that any donations in Hess’ memory be made to St. Croix Animal Welfare Center and the Caribbean Community Theatre of St. Croix.