Daytonian sculptor Virginia Hess dies at 98

Prolific Daytonian artist and sculptor Virginia Krause Hess, whose work can be found across the Dayton region and around the world, has died.

Hess, 98, died Tuesday, May 9 in Miamisburg.

A lifelong resident of western Ohio, Hess spent nearly her entire lifetime creating artworks for the Dayton area, and her work hangs in public and private collections in 50 countries.

Hess was featured as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem in 2021.

Hess attended the Dayton Art Institute at the age of 11, and as a teenager worked as an illustrator for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. While at Wright-Patt, Hess was tasked with painting silhouettes of foreign and domestic planes for posters and playing cards, to help soldiers identify the shadows of friendly aircraft.

Hess also sculpted a bronze bust of Charles E. Taylor, the Wright Brother’s mechanic. Taylor invented the engine which powered the Wright B. Flyer, and enabled Orville and Wilbur Wright to first achieve controlled, powered flight.

The bust has become the basis for the Charlie Taylor Award, an award given to aircraft mechanics for a 25-year perfect record, one of the most prestigious accolades in the field.

She later taught at the School of the Dayton Art Institute and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Dayton in 1961. Her other Dayton area works on public display include bronze bas reliefs or sculptures in Dave Hall Plaza, Stubbs Park in Centerville, the Veterans Center at Wright State University and Dayton Children’s Hospital.

She is survived by her children, Peter Hess, Kristina Hess and Victoria (Hess) Bender.

Hess’s memorial service and celebration of her life will take place on Election Day, Nov. 7.

“Before you think about her on that day, she would have wanted you to vote your conscience,” her family wrote in her obituary.

In lieu of flowers, the Hess family asks that everyone purchase and enjoy some good art or donate in her name to the Dayton Art Institute, Springfield Museum of Art, the Rosewood Art Center through the Kettering Parks Foundation, or Wright State University.

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