The death of Randy Hess had a tremendous effect on his community of friends and loved ones. Hess was known as a "larger-than-life member of the Idaho whitewater community," says a news release provided by his friends when he died.
As owner of White Otter Outfitters, a valley-based whitewater rafting business, Hess provided rafting trips for children through the Galena Lodge summer camp program and volunteered for the Boulder Mountain Tour and this year's Winter Special Olympics.
Hess's memorial service at River Run Lodge in April revealed how much he shared his love of rivers with the community. At the service, 130 people signed a sheet stating they were interested in contributing to a memorial to honor Hess. A letter was sent in mid-May requesting donations to the Randy Hess Memorial Fund. Since the request was made, just under $10,000 has been collected for the fund.
"Our goal is $20,000," said Nicole Brown, committee member for the memorial fund. "It will be the first permanent installation on Fourth Street."
The memorial is planned to be a whitewater-themed sculpture. It would be stationed next to the Coffee Grinder & Gallery and Ozzie's Shoes. The sculpture would not only be dedicated to Hess but would also serve to commemorate the valley's history and tradition of river adventurers and outfitters.
Committee members Brown, John Beehler and Carl Feldbaum have been meeting with architect Dale Bates, who has hosted all the meetings. As a member of the Ketchum Arts Commission, he is spearheading a Fourth Street Corridor public art project.
"Dale has sat for all of our meetings and has been involved making suggestions," Brown said. "We want to let the larger public know and honor this wonderful man."
The Randy Hess Memorial Fund has been approved by the Ketchum Community Development Corporation and all financial contributions to the memorial are tax-deductible. The city of Ketchum will return a tax receipt to donors with a letter of acknowledgement.
Donations can be sent to the Randy Hess Memorial Fund, c/o the Ketchum CDC, P.O. Box 6452, Ketchum, Idaho, 83340. For details, call John Beehler at 720-4446 or Nicole Brown at 720-7188.