Robert Hesse Jr., 91, of Gwynedd Valley, a Philadelphia printing-company executive and community volunteer, died Tuesday, April 15, of respiratory failure at a retirement community in Medford.
After a career in the graphic arts, Mr. Hesse retired in 1986 from the Winchell Printing Co. as executive vice president in charge of sales. At the time, Winchell was one of the largest printing firms in Philadelphia, with 300 employees. It was sold and later closed in 1994.
Mr. Hesse, whose last name rhymes with Bessie, was born in Abington. His father was a printer, and he followed suit.
In 1940, he graduated from Abington High School, where he lettered in swimming and track. He took night courses at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising.
He joined the Army Air Corps in 1940 and was trained as a pilot. While stationed in Meridian, Miss., Mr. Hesse met and married Evelyn Rebecca McArthur in 1945. They were together for 66 years until her death in 2011.
After his military service, Mr. Hesse lived in Abington. He and his wife had three children.
A member of the 28th Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard, he was called up during the Korean War and served as a captain in the Army in Korea.
After the war, he returned home and moved his family to Gwynedd Valley in 1955.
A busy volunteer, he was chairman of the Philadelphia Armed Services YMCA, president of the Philadelphia Master Printers of America, a member of Toastmasters International, and a director of the Graphic Arts Association of Delaware Valley.
As a member of the Union League of Philadelphia, he cochaired its Youth Work Foundation and helped raise scholarship funds.
His hobbies included photography, cooking, astronomy, and acting as a ham-radio operator and amateur scientist.
"Once he built a 'cloud chamber' with dry ice and a movie projector to show the tracks of gamma rays from outer space," said his son, Robert. "It was really cool. I think he read about it in Scientific American."
An avid sailor, he raced lightning-class sailboats at the Brant Beach Yacht Club on Long Beach Island, where he was elected commodore.
In 1986, the Hesses moved to St. Michaels, Md., where they cruised the Chesapeake Bay in their sailboat, Ragtime. Mr. Hesse built wooden sailboats and was a member of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. He also enjoyed traveling.
In addition to his son, he is survived by another son, Edwin, and two grandsons. A daughter, Susan, died in March 2011.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, April 28, in the Holly Room at Medford Leas, 1 Medford Leas Way, Medford, N.J. 08055.
Donations may be made to the Resident Assistance Fund at the address above.