Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead

In Memoriam

In Memoriam

The Rev. R. Sheldon Hess

In Memoriam1

July 20, 1938 –  September 9, 2019

I care deeply for all of creation and all that lives. I am able to indulge in its beauty and wonder, and experience joy every day, just in living. I am story and a storyteller, open to the privilege of suffering with Jesus, while owning a strong voice to advocate and act for others in need. – Shel Hess, 2019

Scientist, Musician, Advocate, Teacher, and Pastor R. Sheldon “Shel” Hess passed into glory on September 9 after a prolonged, courageous, and cheerful battle with cancer and a lifetime of community and professional engagement locally and nationally.

Sheldon Hess earned his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology in 1961 and did graduate work at the same institution, where he worked both as a teacher and a research assistant. He was also an engineer at Champion Aircraft in Osceola, WI. Shel worked as a Performance Engineer and in Product Development at McDonnell Douglas through 1981, then as a Principal Design Integrator on the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III for the US Air Force through 1993. He continued at McDonnell Douglas in a management position until his retirement in 1995.

From the 1960s through the 1990s, Shel studied Choral Conducting and Vocal Studies at California Lutheran University and other colleges, and upon his retirement from McDonnell Douglas he became Director of Music at First Lutheran Church, Northridge. He attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, earning his M.Div in 1998. After serving as an intern and Interim at St Paul’s, Monterey Park, Shel was ordained in 2000 and served the congregation as pastor until his leave from call in 2016.

In the Southwest California Synod, Pastor Shel served as Dean of the San Gabriel Valley Conference for two terms. Other synod roles include serving on the Bishop’s Consultation Team, assisting congregations in conflict; advising congregations entering the pastoral call process; Transformational Ministry Team; Renewal Team of the EOMT; and providing Pastoral and Music Leadership at Lutheran Cursillo of Southern CA and Via de Cristo.

Pastor Shel was a tireless advocate, serving on the Board of Directors and as treasurer of MERCI, a non-profit organization providing services to the developmentally disabled and educationally disadvantaged in Monterey Park. He served as President of the San Gabriel Valley Housing and Homeless Coordinating Council and on the San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness and was a leading founder and treasurer of Family Promise of the San Gabriel Valley, providing housing to homeless families with children. He served as a Court-appointed conservator of homeless and mentally challenged individuals, with the Lions Club of Monterey Park, and on the Monterey Park Ministerial Association.

He is survived by his spouse Hiroko Tazawa, six daughters: Laurie, Wendy, Julie, Susan, Shelly, and Lisa, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Eternal Rest grant him, O Lord, and may Light Perpetual shine upon him

There will be a memorial service for Pastor Shel Hess on Sunday, October 27th at 3:00 P.M. at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 2009 S. Garfield Avenue, Monterey Park.

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