Service Arrangements Set for Blue Ox’s Hesse
Funeral arrangements for Blue Ox CEO and President Jay Hesse have been scheduled through Meyer Brothers Colonial Chapel in Sioux City, Iowa.
Services will be held 11 a.m. Thursday (June 26) in the Hesse Event Center at the Pender Public School in Pender, Neb. Burial will be in Rose Hill Cemetery. Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, with the family present 5-8 p.m., and a prayer service at 7 p.m. at Meyer Brothers Colonial Chapel.
Hesse, a product innovator and an avid RV industry supporter, passed away Sunday (June 22) after privately battling cancer. He was 61.
He is survived by his wife, Sandy, his son, Mike, and daughter, Sonja, and a total of five grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his daughter Sara.
In an announcement from Blue Ox, Vice President Ellen Kietzmann stated, “With Jay’s passing, the RV industry has lost a visionary and inspiring leader who was loyal to the development and growth of the RV industry, his community and his company. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Jay, we have lost a beloved husband, father, brother, dear friend and inspiring mentor. Jay leaves behind a company that he, his father and grandfather built, and his sprit will forever be the foundation of Blue Ox.”
In addition to building Pender-based Blue Ox into one of the industry’s leading towing product suppliers, Hesse was highly active in industry affairs. Most recently, he was named to a seat on the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s board while previously serving in roles with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) as a member of the Go RVing Coalition, the RV Service Training Council (RVSTC) and the Technical Advisory Board.
RVIA President Richard Coon offered, “We were saddened to learn of the passing of Jay Hesse. He was a passionate member of the RV community who built Blue Ox into one of the industry’s leading supplier companies and a dedicated member of RVIA who selflessly provided his time and expertise as a member of the Go RVing Coalition and the RV Service Training Council to expand the RV market. We join with all those in the RV industry in sending heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”
Hesse was also president of the RV Aftermarket Association (RVAA) from 1996-1997. Prior to that he served in several officer and director capacities for the association and received the distinct honor of receiving the Jim Barker Person of the Year from RVAA.
With roots in machinery invention dating back to the 1920s, Blue Ox has a history of innovation and development. Hesse led Automatic Equipment Mfg. Co., Blue Ox’s parent company, into the RV market with the introduction of the Kar-Tote in 1984 and subsequent purchases of the Blue Ox line of tow bars and base plates and the Duncan line of tow bars and brackets in the 1990s.
With the later development of braking systems, trailer hitches, TruCenter steering products and other accessories, Blue Ox was established as a leading product source in the RV and towing arenas.