Master Chief Bob Hesser


A regular contributor to VetLikeMe in our early days, Master Chief Robert Hesser passed away Friday, 21 February 2014. A tireless advocate for SDVOSB, Bob Hesser had a lasting effect on the often rocky turf of veteran-owned business. His relentless commitment to all disabled veterans was most obvious to us with his relentless battles with the Veteran’s Administration’s “Vet’s First” (109-461) policy. He paved the way for me and many other SDVOSB/VOSB advocates. He served as a Vice Chair of Vet-FORCE, an advocacy group for veteran owned small business.

A disabled veteran himself, Hesser endured the pain of disability integrity and grace.

Tributes and comments to Master Chief Robert Hesser

“Hello All:

There must have been a heck of a mess in heaven that needed straightened out. Today, God decided he needed a Master Chief.
It is with a heavy heart I tell you that Bob Hesser died today. We will all miss our good friend, esteemed colleague, and Brother in arms.
Bob will be buried in Arlington Cemetery. We do not have a schedule. Gail will let us know about arrangements as they are scheduled.
I will pass on additional information as it is available.

God saw he was getting tired
And a cure was not to be.
So he put His arms around him
And whispered “Come with Me.”

With tearful eyes we watched him suffer
And saw him fade away.
Although we loved him dearly,
We could not make him stay.

A golden heart stopped beating,
Hard working hands to rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.

Fair winds and following seas Master Chief. Thank you for your service to our country, our veterans and our community.
God Bless you my Brother !”
Paul Ignosh
“I remember all you taught me and promise to continue your legacy and pay it forward! Your presence and leadership will be missed, but the work you’ve done will last for generations to come!
Our prayers are with his wife and family.”
Valerie Lewis
“Bob will be missed by the many that he touched and who benefitted from his wisdom and his commitment to Vets. He made an important contribution to improving programs for Veteran businesses at VA and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. Well done, Master Chief, may you rest in peace knowing that you have made a difference!
Tom Leney
“On behalf of the Board of Directors of Rushmere Community Development Corporation, I extend our sincere condolences to the Hesser family. I had the pleasure to work alongside with Bob Hesser for the past 7 years.”
Rosa Turner
“A salute to a real man and hero.”
Ric Davidge
“It is very hard to say enough good things about who Bob was and all of the un-selfish contributions he made for very larger than life causes like Veterans Affairs, and to each of us as his friends. Thanks again everyone for such a heartfelt outpouring. We will all miss Bob. Our deepest condolences to Gail and all of her family.”
Craig and Mary Aamodt
“We all lost a very special and unselfish Human Being. Bob was a “Man among Men”. I thank God I had these chance to know Bob for he was a very exceptional and talented person. I remember every time I walked with him on a call or at a conference, I had to struggle to keep up with him. . Bob had laid out a path to protect our Veterans and he never strayed from that.

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“Paul, the verse you provided us all is beautiful and should hit all of our hearts for Bob remains in mine for I loved the man and will miss him. My heartfelt wishes to Gail and his two daughters. We were all better off for him being a part of our lives. He without question is in Heaven and will look down and take care of his family. God Bless the Hesser’s.”
John Streppa
“Bob Hesser, USN Master Chief (Ret), was an amazing American who cared deeply about his fellow Veterans. He was my friend and he was a friend of all Veterans everywhere. He spent untold hours of everyday in support of our Veterans small business community, and he dedicated his life to helping his fellows. Bob shall be missed, and his high-energy and dedicated approach to Veterans Advocacy shall leave a void in our Veterans community that will be hard to fill. Rest in Peace Bob!”
Wayne Gatewood, USMC (Ret)
“Thank you for passing along this sad news. Bob was a man of action – his leadership is directly responsible for lasting advances in the world of business oriented Veterans. I worked with him many times over the years – he was a true champion for Veterans. He will be missed by all of his professional colleagues – my personal prayers and sympathy for his family.”
Len Sisteck
“Bob’s voice was most persuasive because of its character. Candor. Bob was fiercely devoted to the truth. (It’s 3% or more. Period!) Bob was not intimidated by high ranking federal officials and their convoluted thinking, even when they wanted him to “shut up”. Clarity.

Bob’s currency was common sense and clarity. (The plain meaning of 3% is 3%!) Conviction. Bob was committed to a cause greater than himself, to obtain earned benefits for those with service-connected disabilities.

Bob’s voice helped fill in that nearly empty canvas for the last nine years. I can still hear its mellifluous timbre. Candor. Clarity. Conviction. It is the voice of wisdom.”
Very Truly,
Charles Cervantes
Sad news. Bob was a gentle soul, a good man and a good friend. The world is a “lesser place” without him.
Requiescat in Pace! – Bob Hesser!”
Allen Gillmore
“This is a terrible loss. Bob was truly one of a kind and a true warrior. My thoughts and prayers are with Gail and his two daughters, that he worshipped. Tears are running down my face as I write this. I am so sorry that Bob had to suffer as he did. Paul, that was a great tribute to him that you sent… heart is saddened by this loss.”
Diane Lunsford
“May Master Chief Hesser have eternal rest. His contributions to this Movement of ours will be his legacy, for which each of us should be ever grateful. Without Bob, we have some big shoes to fill. Bob’s efforts have contributed substantially to our quest in securing a seat at the table of Federal commerce.
Calm seas and fair winds Brother Bob.”
Bill Piccard
Bob was a very dedicated individual, and worked very hard to help other Veterans. He was a phenomenal role model, and an inspiration to all who knew him. He became an expert on the many issues challenging the returning Vet, and was relentless in his efforts to “fight the good fight”. He had a great sense of humor, and often in the midst of animated dialogs during VET-Force meetings he would throw in a zinger that kept us all on an even keel (this often had something to do with someone’s cell phone ringing).

Bob was quick to volunteer, rather than letting a needed task flounder, and I know this created a lot of extra work for him, but he never complained, and we could always count on him to get it done. There’s an old saying that 10% of the people get 90% of the work done, but Bob was proof that sometimes 1% of the people could carry 99% of the workload. At least, that’s how it seemed to me as I watched him contribute to so many different tasks and committees in VET-Force. I’m not saying he did it all (something that always impressed me about VET-Force was that we had SO many of those “1%’ers” on board…it’s a key reason we’ve been able to do so much with so little!), but he was always so proactive and involved. Bob has set a high bar indeed for all of us, as we continue to fight the good fight on behalf of our Vets.

Thank you, Bob, for your leadership, your perseverance, your convictions, and your example. You’ve touched the lives of not only the many people you’ve worked with, but those of future Vets and their families. You’ve left a fine legacy, and we are all proud to have known you.
Dick Richards
“Bob always said, it is not in the character of a man that makes him great, rather his actions. Bob exemplified character, actions and more.
“Thoughts lead on to purposes
Purposes go forth in action
Actions form habits; habits decide
Character; and character fixes our destiny.”
Tyrone Edwards
Bob delivered and supported all veterans with is character! We will miss him greatly!”
Dennis DeMolet
I first met Bob in 1998. At that time he was working with John K, Lopez trying to get both legislation for veterans as a recognized group, particularly service disabled as a protected class to be on an equal footing with women and minority groups.

When first encountered it seemed to me me that he was a crusty old. And he was certainly that and more. The Master Chief was still taking care of enlisted men and women from the time he left the Navy in 1984 until he was taken too early from us in .2014. His compassion and tough love helped all of us around him. The chief had a burning sense of what was right and what was just unacceptable behavior that harmed others. Certainly he was the strongest of advocates for veterans, but also for those he encountered anywhere. The Master Chief quietly helped so many veterans succeed in business that it was nothing short of amazing ascend.

At the same time he did all of the above he also served as 1st Vice Chairman if Vet-Force, where he Qin effect he was the NCOIC of our band. I was one of the ones who often relied on his strength to see us through the ups and downs of of SDVOSB for 15 years.

I will miss him as my brother by a different mother, and the strength of our movement.
Rick Weidman


From his Best Friend:
robert hesserI had a hard time going through the memories that these pictures of Bob (and others) presented. But some are attached. The first one was when he first started out on his Navy career. I know we have pictures that were taken during his retirement ceremony but I’m not sure where they are. The second document has several pictures. It includes a group picture of his kids and two of his grandchildren (about 20 years ago.) Bob with the clown from our daughter’s 5th birthday party (22 years ago). In one picture he was Greek dancing with Ashley. I don’t know if you want to use any of them or not.

What can I say about him? I’m not foolish enough to think that he was perfect. He was stubborn, opinionated (he was almost always right) and he loved winning a good fight, so that made him difficult to tolerate sometimes. He always regretted the fact that he didn’t choose to go to law school after the Navy because he thought he would be a great lawyer!

Bob was passionate about life in general and participated in it with gusto. He committed everything to whatever he did, including his Navy career. In his personal life he enjoyed being outdoors, watching the stars at night, sitting by the campfire and fishing. He loved making silly faces, playing with kids and making them laugh. He even considered attending clown school after he retired.

He also loved to party…particularly when dancing was a part of it. When we went out he would dance with all the women in our group because none of the other husbands like to dance. Several pictures were of him playing with Ashley when she was little. There was a picture of us at our wedding reception 34 years ago. It was in September, 1980. The picture with the beard was in 1981. The last picture was when we took the Motor Home up to Lake Powell (North of Phoenix) to camp and fish (about 1985). The picture of his back looking at the logs stacked was taken when he was in Misawa, Japan. He organized activities and built a log house for the bi-centennial celebration. The picture of him in costume was also taken during that event.

As you know, he truly enjoyed helping people when he could and expected nothing in return; disabled veterans were an important part of his life, but he didn’t limit his support to them.

As in every other facet of his life, his achievements during his Navy career were notable and numerous. He served with honor and dedication, firm leadership and unquestioned loyalty to this country from June, 1963 until May, 1984.

In his personal life he loved his wife, his children, and his friends with his whole heart and they loved him. He was my best friend as well as my husband. The kids were constantly in his thoughts and he did everything possible to help them negotiate through life’s rough spots. We will miss him forever.

I hope you will find something useful in all of this. With him it’s hard to identify significant things he did…there were so many.

He was a person who made other people’s lives better in many ways.

Gale Hesser

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