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Woman went world-wide with journalism

By Staff | Mar 24, 2016

PHOTO PROVIDED Hughesville native, the late Miss Doris Elaine Hess, spent her career in the mission service with the United Methodist Churches Board of Global Ministries beginning in the 1950s.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: To honor Women’s History Month, this is the fourth of a series of stories about local women who made historical strides in our community.)

HUGHESVILLE – From the Philippines to London, Australia, Africa, Russia and China, the late Doris Hess worked all over the world. A 1942 graduate of Hughesville High School, she was proud of her home town.

In 1992, Hess was inducted into the Academic Hall of Fame. One of her five brothers, James Hess, wrote and presented her credentials. Of his sister he said, “She was always full of energy and practically ran when she walked.” The younger brother admitted beginning at age six, she had to ‘drag’ him along wherever she went.

James recalled her studying while “The Voice of Firestone’ was playing softly in the background. She’d been a Girl Scout along with cronies Kathryn Poust, Janet Kohler, June Smith, Jean Diggan and others.

The writing that would take her world wide began at the ‘Hughesville Mail,’ the town’s weekly newspaper, now the site of Baxter Plumbing. From there, she secured a job with the United Press news service in Harrisburg while three of her brothers were overseas during WWII.

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Ms. Ann Hess, newsletter editor for the local Chapter of the Daughter's of the American Revolution (DAR), shared how sister-in-law Doris Hess made a career using her writing talents.

She’d also been employed by the Muncy Luminary and later, the Gazette and Bulletin, the morning publication, now the Sun-Gazette.

The day President Franklin D. Roosevelt died, April 12, 1945, James remembered well. “Doris, who worked until midnight, left a note that Truman was now president. Another notable date was when the Japanese surrendered on August 14, 1945. “Dad and I made a special trip to Williamsport to pick Doris up at she worked late until 2 a.m.,” her late brother said.

Doris and brother Dinny enrolled at Asbury College at Wilmore, Kentucky, both graduating with bachelor’s degrees in 1949.

In February 1950, Doris was commissioned at Buck Hill Falls in the Poconos to become a Methodist Missionary. Following a decade of work in the Philippines, Doris returned to the states where in 1963, she received her doctorate in journalism at Syracuse University where she’d previously obtained a Master’s degree.

Doris Elaine Hess was born August 7, 1924, the only daughter of George M. and Susan Margaret (Swank) Hess. She died Jan 13, 2009.

Ms. Ann Hess, a bit of a journalist herself from Hughesville, shared the above story of her sister-in-law. For more than 30 years, Ann served as editor of the newsletter for the East Lycoming Historical Society (ELHS). Working with the Rev. George Doran, the society’s first president, Ann Hess saw the need for a newsletter. In 2008, it was expanded to a multi-page printing.

In 2015, Ann resigned the position at ELHS to reawaken the ‘Daughters’ Dispatch, a newsletter for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

As a genealogist, Ann documents her lineage back to several early families, most often proving connections to male military men.

For Women in History month, Ann submitted the biography of her sister-in-law as an example of a woman who went world wide using her journalism expertise. Referring to her as ‘your native daughter,’ a 1986 news item from The Luminary announced Doris Hess as an upcoming speaker. The notice was issued by her church, Christ United Methodist of Hughesville. It read, “Doris is in full time service for the Lord with the Board of Global Ministries.”