The very independent, hardworking and happy local resident Virginia Hess will be turning 100 next month, observing the historic event on Feb. 15. There will be a party to honor Hess on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 4 p.m. at the Stanislaus County Veterans Services Office, 3500 Coffee Road, Suite 19 in Modesto. Anyone that has ever worn or was given a handmade hat by Hess is invited to attend. Please RSVP via text message at 918-231-5051 so they can get an idea how many people will be in attendance for planning purposes.
For the past 40 years, Hess has been making hats and continues to do so to this day. Not only is the hat making a hobby of hers but it is what a lot of people know her by, as she has made hats for seniors, veterans, cancer patients, and babies.
“My hats have gone all over the world,” said Hess. “I’ve got them in Kenya, Switzerland, Alaska, and Hawaii. All over. I used to make all kinds of things like scarves and sweaters but I cut it down to just hats. Every day I make a hat.”
Stepson Rick Hess is organizing the party for Virginia and would like to invite anyone in the community that knows her or has received a hat from her. He added that she has made thousands of hats over the years which began when her sister had cancer. Her sister lost her hair from a treatment she received so Virginia made her a hat. The ladies at the center liked the hats so Virginia began making them for the cancer center for distribution to other patients.
From there, Virginia made baby hats for newborns at the area hospitals and she has delivered several hats to American Veterans First for veterans. This has given her the nickname of the “Hat Lady” within the community.
Rick said, “This is kind of her mission, her calling in life, whatever you want to call it. This is what she does.”
Through her friendship with AVF and family members that served like Rick, who was in the Marine Corps, they have set Virginia up with the Veterans Center in Modesto to have her birthday party. The family is very grateful for that. Virginia said she has always appreciated and respected veterans and law enforcement.
She has been living on her own since she was 65 years old. She has a little dog that keeps her company currently and some people that help her out. She does not have too many visitors and is very independent.
“I don’t have a lot of company and that doesn’t bother me,” she expressed. “Everybody says don’t get lonesome. I do just fine on my own and I enjoy it.”
She has made many friends over the years and hopes to see some of them at her birthday party next month.
“My doctor tells me that I am very independent and I love it,” added Virginia. “I have been with the same doctor a long time. He is the greatest doctor in the world. He said that he knows others that are 100 but they can’t talk. I keep busy. I keep moving. I am happy and I enjoy each day.”
The 99-year-old no longer drives, which she said was very difficult to give up, but during the time she did drive – several decades – she only had two tickets.
She said, “You just go out, jump in your car and go where you want to and now all of a sudden it stops.”
She may not be driving anymore but Virginia still gets around walking the area where she lives each day. There is a person that takes her to appointments, picks up medications and takes her to the store.
As for the secret to living a long life Hess remarked, “I’m very happy where I am at and I never run out of anything to do. Anything that makes me happy, I do it.”