Jimmie Hess, 91, of Birmingham, Ala., and Longboat Key, died Jan. 21.
Following World War II, Mrs. Hess and her late husband, Emil, moved to Birmingham, where she enhanced the city’s art scene. She held every major position in the Women’s Committee of the Symphony from 1950 until 1968, when she became president. A lifelong supporter of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Mrs. Hess founded the Music Opportunity Program to improve young people’s access to classical-music education.
Mrs. Hess also served two terms as president of the Birmingham Council of Jewish Women, oversaw the Women’s Committee of the United Jewish Fund, volunteered with The Community Chest, spoke about Judaism at many women’s church clubs and taught Sunday School at Temple Emanu-El.
She was her husband’s silent partner while he built their family business, Parisian Inc., into a major department store throughout the Southeast.
She enjoyed travel, theater, music, bridge, golf and reading.
When asked several months ago what legacy she hoped to leave behind, Mrs. Hess answered that she would like to be remembered for her performances in “South Pacific,” “The King and I,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Kiss Me Kate”; her work as co-chairwoman in the 1982 centennial celebration of Temple Emanu-El; and the accomplishments of her children and grandchildren.
Mrs. Hess was preceded in death by Emil, her husband of 55 years; and daughter, JoAnn Morrison.
She is survived by her brother, Sidney Seidenman Jr.; children, Ronne and Donald; 10 grandchildren; and 25 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held Thursday, Jan. 24, at Temple Emanu-El, in Birmingham. Memorial donations may be made to one of Mrs. Hess’ favorite charities: Hess Chapel Fund at Temple Emanu-El, 2100 S. Highland Ave., Birmingham, Ala., 35203; Jo Ann Hess Morrison Chai Tots, 3040 Overton Road, Birmingham, Ala. 35223; Music Opportunity Foundation Inc., Phillips Academy, 2316 Seventh Ave. S., Birmingham, Ala., 35203; and Florida Studio Theater, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, Fla., 34236.
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