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Doris Hess, Retired Mission Leader, Dies at Age 84

New York, January 16, 2009--Dr. Doris Hess, 84, a retired United Methodist missionary and long-time mission agency executive, died on January 13 following a long illness.

She had lived at the Brooks-Howell retirement center in Asheville, North Carolina, for six years. She was a native of Hughesville, Pennsylvania, where a memorial service was scheduled for January 24 at Christ United Methodist Church.

Most of her career was devoted to mission education and communications. She was a specialist in literature both for the Women's Division and former World Division of what is now the General Board of Global Ministries. During those years, she was a major figure in ecumenical work devoted to Christian literature and communications.

“Doris was one of the most significant Christian communicators of the 20th century,” said Betty Thompson, a retired communications executive with Global Ministries. “She traveled more than anyone I ever met in the interest of mission, and trained an entire generation of United Methodist communicators around the world. She was interested in technology and its impact on the work of the church.”

Doris Hess began her career as a Women's Division missionary in the Philippines. After nine years, she joined the staff of the Women's Division. In 1964, she became an assistant general secretary of the World Division, retiring from Global Ministries in 1990.

Dr. Hess, who held MA and PhD degrees from Syracuse University, grew up in Hughesville and did undergraduate work at Syracuse before transferring to Asbury College, from which she was graduated in 1949.

She represented The United Methodist Church on the ecumenical Christian Literature Fund Committee and was active in the World Association of Christian Communicators and the Christian Education Committee of the World Council of Churches.

After retiring from Global Ministries, Dr. Hess did volunteer work in mission in Australia and Great Britain. She did short-term work in Russia as The United Methodist Church organized there following the breakup of the Soviet Union. After returning to the US, she volunteered at the International Language Center in New York, dividing her time between New York City and Hughesville.

Brooks-Howell, the retirement center in Asheville where she lived in recent years, is owned by the Women's Division and open to retirees of the mission agency. Many current residents are former missionaries and deaconesses.

Date posted: Jan 16, 2009

Last Updated: 02/04/2013

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