MIKE HESS, 56, WRESTLING REFEREE, COACH AND LEADER, WHO PASSED AWAY MAY 9 IN LAS VEGAS, NEV., MADE A MAJOR IMPACT ON THE SPORT ON MANY LEVELS
Mike Hess, 56, of Edmonds, Wash., a wrestling referee, coach and leader, passed away at Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas on May 9. Hess was active in all aspects of wrestling in the state of Washington and was an active leader within USA Wrestling. He made a major impact on the sport of wrestling on many levels.
Mike collapsed in the early morning of April 22 after returning from a late dinner. He was in Las Vegas to participate as a referee in the U.S. National Wrestling Championships that weekend. He was taken to the hospital and after many tests, it was found he had an infection which caused his collapse. The infection settled in his lungs and despite the best efforts of the hospital staff, led to his passing.
Mike was born on July 21, 1943, in Lakehurst, New Jersey and his family moved west to Moses Lake, Washington where he attended high school. He graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1965 and was a letter winner in wrestling. He began his teaching career in Edmonds, Wash. the same year and became the head wrestling coach at Edmonds High School in 1968. He coached and taught for 34 years at Edmonds High and then Edmonds-Woodway High.
During his coaching tenure, he coached several state champions and several highly ranked teams. He served a four year term as President of the Washington Wrestling Coaches Association and was active with the State Athletic Association. He was instrumental in helping wrestling grow at the high school level throughout the state of Washington.
In the early 1970's, Mike realized the benefits of international style competition and he began to promote freestyle wrestling. This led to him becoming an international referee and he helped found the Washington Wrestling Federation. His efforts helped develop a strong program in the Northwest.
Mike attained a USA Category 1E and a FILA Category 1 while officiating at every level of competition. His knowledge and ability helped train many young officials.
Within the Washington Federation, Mike served as Cultural Exchange Director and organized many trips for Washington wrestlers to foreign countries like Japan and Russia. These trips provided valuable cultural experiences for those who went on the trips.
In 1990, Mike served as Competition Director for Wrestling at the Seattle Goodwill Games which saw the USA defeat Russia in the title match. This match was one of the highlights of the Games.
In 1996 Mike served as the Director of Staging for wrestling at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. He was the man who sent the athletes to the mats and kept a smooth flow throughout the event.
He and former University of Washington wrestling coach Jim Smith co-chaired a committee of wrestling enthusiasts who are pushing to have the sport reinstated at Washington and Washington State.
As a teacher Mike again, "did it all," teaching every history course in the department at Edmonds High School at one time or another. He also served as Department Head for several years while teaching classes in Japanese and Russian History.
He said that his greatest achievement was not the state champions but the graduates his teams produced. His reward for coaching was watching the success of the kids after high school as they became leaders in the community.
Mike is survived by his daughters and their husbands, Erica and Sam Hobos of Palo Alto, CA.; Trina and Eric Myklebust of Seattle; and his sister and her husband, Susan and Vince Lorrain of Bellevue, Wash.
A Memorial Service was held on May 16, at the Westgate Chapel in Edmonds, Wash., followed by a reception at Edmonds Woodway High School.
The family has asked the instead of flowers, donations be made to: Mike Hess Memorial Scholarship Fund, C/O Trina Mykelbust, 4324 NE 55th St., Seattle, WA 98105.