HARLINGEN — Veteran Rio Grande Valley journalist and sportswriter Roy Hess died Thursday morning at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.
He was 66 years old.
A 2016 inductee of the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame, Hess covered Valley sports for five decades. He remains the only person who has served as the sports editor of the Valley’s three main daily newspapers — The Brownsville Herald, The Valley Morning Star and The McAllen Monitor.
“I was saddened to hear about Roy’s passing,” AIM Media Texas publisher and vice president Stephan Wingert said. “We have lost a giant in the south Texas sports community.”
Roy Hess was born Jan. 9, 1954, in McCook, Neb., and raised in Neligh, Neb. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and arrived in the Valley in 1978. He was also a licensed vocational nurse at Valley Baptist Hospital for 11 years. Hess is survived by his wife, Nellie; his three children, Merry Christine, Erik James and Erika Amanda; his brother, Terry; and his sisters Sharon Hess Schweer and Marsha Grafton.
During his tenure at The Monitor, the publication expanded its sports coverage area beyond the McAllen city limits to all of Hidalgo County.
Hess was the only sportswriter to cover each of the five Valley state championships in soccer. He was equally dedicated to the boxing beat, covering the ascension of three Valley boxers to the national spotlight.
“He was the kindest, most gentle soul, and a pro’s pro,” said Louie A. Vera, journalism advisor and social media liaison at Porter High School and a former Herald and Star reporter. “Even when I worked with opposing media outlets throughout the years he would offer help if I missed a quote or needed a stat. He was a great mentor and friend. I’m going to miss him very much.”
During his decorated career, Hess was named Region IV sports writer of the year by the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches in 1992, 2005 and 2012. In 1982, Hess was awarded first place for his sports column by United Press International. The Associated Press recognized him with an honorable mention award for a sports story in 2005, and he earned third place spot sports reporting (2012).
In a Facebook post Thursday, George Green of the Brownsville Futbol website said Hess was “A true friend to the soccer community and the youth of the Valley.”
“You will be missed, I can’t believe I (we) won’t be seeing you at all high school sporting events,” Green wrote. “A true Valley Legend!”
A viewing will be held from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, with a service at 7 p.m. at Rudy Garza Funeral Home in Harlingen.
The funeral is set to take place Tuesday at Mount Meta Memorial Park Cemetery in San Benito.