Legend. Iconic. Giant.
Roy Hess was all of these when it came to RGV sports and more specifically journalism in the Valley.
For more than four decades, Hess dedicated his professional life to telling the stories of Valley athletes. Even when he decided to change careers and become a nurse in Harlingen, Roy continued to roam sidelines and gyms with pen and paper in hand.
He was inducted in the RGV Sports Hall of Fame in 2016 and he, at one point during his illustrious career, led each of the sports desks at the Brownsville Herald, the Valley Morning Star and The Monitor. He was a true newsman. Roy was also a friend, a mentor and one of the kindest human beings around. His softspoken tone was oftenwelcomed in a busy, noisy newsroom on deadline. Roy always had time for a story and to lend a helping a hand.
And in the summer of 2000, Roy gave me one of the biggest assists in my then young life.
In what I thought was a bold move, I picked up the phone and called Roy at The Monitor. I was a student at UTPA and looking to get published in a daily newspaper. Other publications told me no, but Roy gave me a shot. I had never met Roy before that phone call.
That summer I had two articles published in The Monitor and it helped jumpstart my career as a sportswriter.
In 2002, I started working at the Valley Morning Star and Roy was one of the first people who called to congratulate me on my new gig.
Indeed, Roy was a legend and an icon and a giant in the sports writing world, especially in the RGV.
But I will mostly remember Roy as a kind, gentle soul who was willing to listen and help.
— Eladio Jaimez
‘THE NICEST GUY I’VE EVER MET’
Anyone who has ever read the sports section of any of the Valley’s daily newspapers over the past 40-plus years knew who Roy Hess was.
His passing this past week was definitely heartbreaking. Like my good friend Eladio wrote, Roy truly leaves a legacy among the Valley sports community and beyond.
It seems like there are thousands who can rattle off a Roy Hess story or two, as evidenced by the outpouring this week on Facebook from coaches, readers and former colleagues. This is a surefire testament to the impact he had on the lives of many.
I was introduced to his work back when I would wake up early as a kid to buy the Saturday newspapers to read the previous night’s football news. I knew all of the sportswriters’ names and writing styles, and Roy’s was no exception.
Later, I was fortunate enough to forge my own career as a sportswriter at the Valley Morning Star, where I got to know Roy as a colleague during his Brownsville Herald days. He was one of several who showed this novice reporter the ropes and was always willing to help me out. I’ll never forget that.
He was kind, genuine, and — no exaggeration — probably the nicest guy I have met. Ever.
Many nights he’d slip into the Star newsroom to file a story, make some calls or just hang out with us. He’d listen to our banter, which always left him shaking his head and laughing along with us.
Roy could write it all, but his passions were boxing and soccer. Valley soccer will never be the same without Roy, however. He covered just about everything with just as much gusto.
I vividly remember a Los Fresnos-Weslaco High football playoff game at Bobby Lackey Stadium in 2005. Roy and I rode together to cover the big matchup, and there wasn’t much room in the press box in those days. So, Roy and I sat in the bleachers on the visitors’ side and covered the game from there. It was a treat. That night always stuck with me because it was what he was all about: dedication and finding a way to get the job done, no matter the situation.
Often times you’d see him make his way to the field or court after game, sometimes slowly. But he never stopped doing what he loved. Roy wasn’t going to over-jazz or try to “ESPN-ize” his stories. They were solid, factbased and to the point. He wasn’t out to make anyone look bad or bring attention to himself.
That was Roy.
I’ll part with this: Whenever you’d call Roy on the phone, he was always more than happy to chat.
“This is Roy,” he’d answer instead of a traditional “hello.” Always pleasant and cordial.
Indeed, this is, and always will be, Roy Hess. Rest in peace, amigo.
— Armando Garza
SOCCER, LANDRY AND NINJA TURTLES
With a smile and positive energy, Roy Hess was always ready with his pen, pad and 1980s tape recorder.
His fingers and mind made some great magic. Nothing flashy. Very simple. Yet, his writing was precise and he was there for some of the biggest moments in Valley sports history during his career, which spanned more than 40 years.
I got to know Roy on a professional and personal basis when I worked at the Brownsville Herald from 2004-07. With his resume, I never hesitated to pick his brain about games he attended, reporting style or life in general. We had a blast covering beats together such as high school football, including the great 2003 Port Isabel Tarpon football team, which is the last Valley team to reach the state semifinals. At the time, I was a young reporter at the Valley Morning Star.
Throughout the years, we’d talk about former players, coaches and teams we had covered. But that 2003 Tarpon team was often a discussion we would reminisce about. He and I saw arguably the greatest game in Valley history: Port Isabel’s 63-61 Class 3A state quarterfinal win over Altair Rice, in four overtimes, on a cool afternoon at San Antonio’s Alamo Stadium. (You can find the amazing highlights on YouTube.) One of the things he learned from me was how obsessed of a Dallas Cowboys fan I am. He told me a story about the time he reached out to the Cowboys organization requesting an interview with legendary coach and Mission native Tom Landry. At the time, Roy was going to write a story for his nomination into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He left a message, got back to work and within five minutes, Landry called him and granted Roy an interview. Landry’s explanation, according to Roy, was that he found out a Valley reporter wanted to talk for a story and didn’t hesitate to return the call.
Later, I remember how happy he was to experience Brownsville Porter capture the Class 5A boys soccer state championship. The crew and I saw him a few days later in the newsroom and couldn’t help but laugh because he was as red as a tomato. He was cool with it. But I’m not sure he knew we were also laughing because his face was red everywhere, except in the area around his eyes where his sunglasses were on, imitating a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Roy Hess is a Valley sports legend. He was genuine with his work. He rooted for all studentathletes and coaches. I never saw him upset or even curse, which is a big challenge in this field. Before I go, here’s something to consider: If we all just take a page from Roy Hess’ approach to life and personality, this world would be a much better place.
— Mike Gonzalez