BUTLER: John Joseph “Joe” Hess, 84, died peacefully at home after a long illness on Dec. 3, 2014. A devoted and loving family man, Joe is survived by his wife of 40 years, Sylvi Koso, and by his five children: Tuukka Hess (with wife Cristiane Campelo-Hess and daughters Alma Victoria Hess and Marisol Carolina Hess); Deirdre Hess; Tara Najim (with husband Amjad Najim and son Laith Joseph Abdullah Najim); Maura Hess (with husband Issac Camarena); and Riikka Hess (with fiancé Charles Nomides).
Joe was born on May 15, 1930 in Mount Vernon, Ohio. He spent much of his childhood in Mansfield, Ohio, where his mother, Kathryn Hess, was a teacher in the Mansfield city schools and his father, Rex Hess, was a sports editor at the Mansfield News Journal.
Joe earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration degree at Miami University. In 1957 he opened the Leaning Tower of Pizza in Mansfield, the first pizza establishment between Cleveland and Columbus, and later followed with a second Leaning Tower in Ashland and the Furtile Turtile in Columbus. Those who ate and worked at his businesses count themselves as members of a special community, a feeling shared by Joe and his family.
Joe and Sylvi met while traveling in Switzerland, and were married on March 11, 1974. Sylvi was the love of Joe’s life, and the highlight of his every day. He was supportive of her career as an ophthalmologist throughout his life, and in 1992 sold the Leaning Tower to allow Sylvi to work while he devoted his time to their children.
Joe had a great love for his children. Joe patiently waited in school parking lots as his children attended sports practice for countless hours, and lyrics that he ad-libbed to popular songs when his kids were young can be recited by memory decades later. He never missed an opportunity to encourage, edify, and support his children in reaching their goals and fulfilling their potential. He coached his children’s grade-school basketball teams for many years, and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know his children’s friends. He was an incredible father and husband.
Joe had a deep appreciation for basketball, humor, good dogs, classic cars, pies and all things Ireland. One of his greatest pleasures was sharing his love of Ireland with his family during many visits to that green country. He had no patience for snobbery, but would go out of his way to make people laugh. His hilarious advertisements for the Leaning Tower of Pizza were unmistakably Joe. They featured social commentary and tongue-in-cheek critiques of himself and his food, prices, employees, and customers, and of course his competition. Joe was always honest and authentic. He truly loved people and on many occasions throughout his life dedicated himself to helping others in difficult circumstances reach their goals.
Joe is preceded in death by his parents, Rex and Kathryn Hess, and his brother, David Hess.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Snyder Funeral Home, located at 81 Mill Road in Bellville. Those closest to Joe and his family are invited to attend a funeral service also at Snyder Funeral Home on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. The Rev. James Cosby will officiate. Memorial donations may be sent to Clear Fork Valley Local Schools, 92 Hines Avenue, Bellville, Ohio 44813, to honor Joe’s commitment to education, or to your own favorite charity to honor what Joe meant to you. The family also encourages those whose lives were touched by Joe to celebrate his life by sharing memories with them at www.snyderfuneralhomes.com.