Close ‘Family Ties’ Held at Leon Hess Multidisciplinary Cancer Center
Naming Monmouth Medical Center’s multidisciplinary cancer center in honor of the late philanthropist Leon Hess has special significance for his “extended” prominent New Jersey family, as well as for Monmouth Medical Center.
Before the founder of energy giant Amerada Hess Corp. died in 1999, he established the New York-based Hess Foundation, which today is led by Mrs. Leon (Norma) Hess, the sister-in-law of the late Jacqueline M. Wilentz — after whom Monmouth’s breast center is named. Jacqueline, who died of breast cancer, was the wife of Mrs. Hess’ brother — Robert Wilentz, former chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, who also lost his life to cancer.
In addition, the late Lester A. Barnett, M.D., former chief of surgery at Monmouth, was a childhood friend of Leon Hess — a relationship they retained through adulthood as the Hesses maintained a summer residence in Long Branch.
Throughout his life, Dr. Barnett played an instrumental role in supporting fund-raising efforts for Monmouth, particularly for the expansion of cancer services. He died in April 2002, shortly after he helped make possible the extraordinary $3 million gift from the Hess Foundation.