Claude H. Hess, 92, innovative PA Master Farmer, founded Dutch Dozens Farm, philanthropist

By on January 24, 2018

Claude H. Hess, 92, son of Abram Myer and Ruth Hollinger Hess, died Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 at Brethren Village.

A lifelong resident of Lancaster County, Hess was in 1983 appointed a Pennsylvania Master Farmer. He served as president of the Master Farmers, a five-state association, in 1993. He started farming in 1959 and built, in Brownstown, one of the nation’s first windowless chicken houses. In 1976, he was also one of the first farmers to create, in co-operation with Pennsylvania State University, a computer generated feeding program for his chickens.

He was a founding partner of Plain & Fancy Egg Ranch, Elizabethtown, where he managed egg production from 1965 to 1975 before starting his own operations, Dutch Dozens Farm in Manheim, and Heritage Poultry Management Services.

Born in Bird-In-Hand, he contracted polio at the age of three. Although spared the iron lung, it left him with one fully functional leg. In his 1942 yearbook from Upper Leacock High School, Claude Hess listed his prized possession as his driver’s license. He went on to earn a private and commercial pilot’s license with instrument rating and was a member of the Lancaster Aero Club. He also loved boating on the Chesapeake and riding horses, motorcycles and snowmobiles. Very interested in photography, Hess served as president of the Lancaster Camera Club in 1950.

A committed philanthropist and member of the Church of the Brethren, Hess sponsored many foreign exchange students. He was honored by the Manheim Rotary Polio Fund and the On Earth Peace Assembly, New Windsor, Md., of which he was a founding member. Some of his other charities included Heifer International, Christian Aid Ministries and the Mennonite Central Committee.

He is predeceased by his wife of 50 years: Irene Groff Hess; and his brother: Dr. Earl H. Hess, founder of Lancaster Laboratories.

He is survived by his sister-in-Law: Anita Hess; his wife: Anita Carol Eppinger Hess; and his two children: Linda Hess Conklin, married to Alan S. Goldstein of Bucks County; and Dr. J. Clair Hess of Lancaster, married to Elizabeth Reese Hess. He also leaves three granddaughters: Nora Wilhelmina Conklin in Baltimore, Md.; Amy Elizabeth Hess, wife of Addison Teng, in Chicago, Ill.; and Jennifer Hess John, wife of David John, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Funeral services were Jan. 22 at Conestoga Church of the Brethren, Leola. Interment was in Bareville Cemetery.

Contributions in his memory can be made to Brethren Disaster Ministries, PO Box 188, New Windsor, MD 21776-0188.

Memories and condolences may be shared at Furman Home for Funerals, Leola, handled the arrangements.

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