Statement about Professor Emeritus Robert Hess

by University Communications,

The Willamette University community has lost a wonderful artist, friend and colleague: sculptor and Professor of Art Emeritus Robert Hess, who passed away on Thursday, May 8.

Professor Hess will be warmly remembered by his former students, faculty colleagues and members of the art community for his dedication to excellence in creating works of art. He adhered to the very highest standards in all he undertook, in his art, his teaching, leadership and service to our community of scholars.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Hess earned his BFA in sculpture at Indiana University in 1970 and his MFA at Notre Dame in 1972. He was hired in 1972 to teach classes in sculpture and design at Willamette and was a member of the Art Department faculty for 34 years.

With many publicly and privately commissioned works to his credit, Hess’ wood carvings and his cast and welded figures and abstractions won many awards and brought him recognition as a major sculptor in Oregon and the larger Northwest region. In addition to periodic exhibitions at Hallie Ford Museum of Art over the course of his career, a number of his works have become a part of the university's art collection, including "Dixieland" in Rogers Rehearsal Hall, "Chutzpah" in the M. Lee Pelton Theatre foyer and several others.

As a faculty colleague and teacher, Hess will be remembered as a remarkable artist whose work will outlive us all. He was a hearty, sincere and supportive colleague, and above all, a fine teacher, revered by his students.

Celebration of life ceremony

A celebration of life will take place at Willamette University's Hallie Ford Museum of Art on June 2 from 4—7 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the Hess family encourages people to continue to celebrate the arts in Robert's memory by joining the the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. To join, visit or call 503-370-6867.

May 14 — Please note that the initial post included erroneous information about Hess' service as part of specific public art commissions; we have corrected the post and regret the error.