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10 entries.
Kyle Kyle from Seattle wrote on August 18, 2023 at 11:59 am
Like Conrad, I first met Brian through his children, as I too was a classmate of Thyrza and Barrett through middle school. For a decade or so I spent the vast majority of my weekends at their house. In that time I like to think I befriended Brian. To me, Brian was rare among adults I had encountered at that point. He never treated his childrens' friends like inferiors, inconveniences, or just kids to be patronized, he treated us like people. Iโ€™m forever grateful that he and Jennifer did so; it was often a high bar to be treated like an adult as a kid, and I fell short many times, but I was always appreciative of that respect.

Another thing I share with Conrad is that through Brian and his family I was introduced to so many interests that have stuck with me to this day, paramount of which might be a love of tabletop games, especially Dungeons & Dragons. I remember Brian standing over a table, gesturing wildly, puffing out his cheeks, and blowing down at the table to emulate a dragon breathing fire. Leaping from his couch to bellow victoriously at the television when the OSU Beavers scored a touchdown. Sitting by a fire in their backyard on a warm summer night. Those are the moments Iโ€™ll never forget.

At the same time, I remember some of the early days, when he was โ€œon callโ€ for work and would have to step away from gaming with us to fix some kind of bug or issue until the late hours of the night. As a kid I was always sad to see him leave and wished he would hurry through the work or find some way out of it. Looking back, I realized later that he didnโ€™t want to do it either, but he did because he loved his family. No request was too much for him when it came to them. To Brian, in my experience, his family was more than just blood relatives; it was the people he chose to bring into that fold. I was privileged to be among them.

Brian and Jenniferโ€™s home was always a place of refuge, calm, and fun. During some of the darkest times in my life I struggled with issues of depression and other challenges, and in those days the knowledge of that little bit of joy waiting just a few days away made it bearable. The little white house in West Seattle with its terraced front garden, sprawling with veggies in the summer, was the safest place.

As I grew up Brian was practically my second father, and through him I learned the kind of person I wanted to be. Brian was firm in his convictions, but always willing to listen and respond constructively. Brian celebrated people as they were; he truly judged people by who they were inside, not some superficial feature. At times he could be brutally honest, but also knew when to hold back. He was creative, insightful, sharp of wit, quick with a joke, and unerringly compassionate. Perhaps above all, he was fiercely loyal to his friends and family.

The world lost one of its best with Brianโ€™s passing, and I will forever feel truly fortunate to have known him. Thank you and farewell Brian, may you rest in peace.
Conrad Conrad wrote on June 16, 2023 at 2:17 pm
This was a small send-off I wrote for Norkas the Wise, the last character Brian played in our long-running D&D game. The other names are characters played by close friends, but the one I want to call out specifically is the character of Bondin. This was Barrett's character for the majority of the campaign.

Across the seas, over the jagged mountains of the Krakenโ€™s Maw, past Arcantionโ€™s capital of Grestead, deep in a shadowy and abandoned temple library, we see a figure. Muscular, broad shouldered, clad in weathered yet well-cared for bronze armor. He moves from shelf to shelf, flipping pages of ancient and disintegrating tomes, unrolling crackling fragments of scrolls. Occasionally, he returns to an open space in the center of the chamber, where a number of arcane and divine sigils are etched into the floor, creating a complex circular pattern.

As he passes a nearby table, his lanternโ€™s faint flame illuminates his face. Norkas the Wise runs a calloused hand over his chin and his eyes trace down another codex. Then they go wide. He quickly moves back to the circle, and with a piece of blue chalk, sketches the final sigil into the circle.

It has been years of searching, amidst his other adventures. He has been taking notes and collecting information while traveling with his friends and companions. He helped Indos rebuild his familyโ€™s name and take his rightful place at their ancestral home. He traveled with Etain, rescuing her father from hostile forces who had captured him for their dark rituals. With his friend Gunnar, they ventured to Lesdon, where after the Proudstar Rebellion, additional support was needed. They rebuilt the garrison, and he helped establish Gunnar as the captain of the Dukeโ€™s guard. He even found a quiet little cottage for his friend Morthos, and helped him establish a quiet yet popular little alchemists business.

And during all these adventures, he has been seeking the hidden information secreted away by his god, Ogmha, Lord of Knowledge.
At last, he has found it.

The circle before him begins to glow. Norkas sheds his pack, removing his dented armor, leaves his weapon leaning against a nearby table. He looks over his belongings with a smile, remembering the trials and tribulations he underwent with his allies. And with that smile on his face, he steps into the light.

As so the next stage of Norkas the Wiseโ€™s journey begins. He ascends, taking his place as the avatar of Ogmha. His voice will be a whisper in the ear of all those who seek a deeper understanding of the world and their place in it. His hand will guide invention and discovery for ages to come.

And perhaps most important of all, his legacy includes a tightly-bound leather tome that flickers and disappears as the light of the circle fades. In all of his travels, he gathered whatever information and knowledge he could come across, and chronicled it for his kindred spirit in the hunt for truth, his old companion Bondin. This tome will magically make its way to his friend, in due time, and with it, Norkasโ€™s story will continue.
Conrad Conrad wrote on June 16, 2023 at 1:46 pm
I wanted to share what I wrote for Brian's memorial. I was incredibly honored to be asked to host it, and to be able to share what he meant to me.

I've been an unofficial part of the Hess family since I was 15. I met Brian's son, Barrett, in Middle School, and we quickly became best friends. Barrett was always so excited to bring me over to spend time with his family, and so I quickly became close with Thryza, Jennifer, and of course, with Brian. By the end of High School, there would be weeks where I would spend more time with the Hess family than I would with my own. I was affectionately called โ€œUnder-Sonโ€ ; not really their son, but just the next best thing.

I had been close with my friends' families before, but something with this family was different. They weren't just my friend's parents and sibling... they were my friends as well. And this was especially true with Brian. Some nights I slept over, Barrett would go to bed early, and Brian and I would stay up far too late, playing video games, talking about life, sharing stories and dreams for the future.
As I got older, this friendship grew and developed. As I became an adult, it became easier for us to talk more and more as peers. He always extended the same interest in my life as I saw him do with his other friends, regardless of age.

Brian was instrumental in introducing me to something that has had a major impact in my life since: Dungeons and Dragons. Barrett and Brian were so excited to teach me to play, to introduce me to their group, and to include me in the fun and silly stories of adventure they were creating. I was immediately hooked, and could not wait to go down into their basement every other week to continue pretending to be heroes in our make-believe worlds.

Over the last few months, as I've sat and thought about what my friendship with Brian meant to me, these stories kept coming back to me. And I slowly came to realize, there was one thing Brian taught
me above everything else. And he taught me this both in this make-believe fantasy world we shared together, but also in how he moved through the world day after day. He taught me what it meant to be
a hero.

When his son's friend misses the last bus from West Seattle and needs a ride home, a hero doesn't care how late it is, or how early he has to get up the next day. He drives him home, even if that rides takes over an hour round trip.

When someone you're close to is in trouble at 2am, and feels unsafe spending the night in an empty house, a hero pulls on his pants and hops in the car without a though. He offers that person a place to stay, however long they need.

A hero puts his own wants aside to support his family. Even if he would rather be traveling the world, out in nature, exploring, fishing, rockhounding, even if he hates having to go to work every day, he
does, because he knows his family counts on him. He goes in every Monday and works his ass off all week, so he can continue to be a hero with his friends and family outside work hours.

A hero ensures everyone is always welcome at his home. The moment you walk in the door, you are family. There is food, drink, laughter, a shoulder to lean on, whatever you need. No matter how many people descend, and no matter how large or small the house, there is always room around the fire for one more.

And most of all, a hero supports his loved ones and takes pride in their accomplishments. I only recently learned how much Brian bragged about me and my wife, Stephanie, and the things we were accomplishing in our lives. Every time we came to visit, he would sit with rapt attention, hearing about the changes in our careers, our attempts to balance paying jobs while working in theater, plans for grad school, plans for a family. He would give advice when needed, he would call bull shit when we were getting in our own way, but he made it clear how proud and impressed he was. And not just of us, but everyone he considered family.

Brian taught me to play a game of make-believe with dice and monsters. Brian taught me that money is worthless without loved ones to spend it on.
Brian taught me not to take life so seriously, and to always make room to play and to laugh.
Brian taught me how to show up for your people.
Brian taught me how to be a hero.

Brian was a hero. To me, and to so many others.
Jennifer Hess Jennifer Hess from Lake Forest Park, WA wrote on May 16, 2023 at 9:13 pm
I wanted to thank everyone who was able to attend our Zoom memorial on Sunday and everyone who couldn't attend, but thought of him that day. I can't tell you how much it meant to me and all my children to have you all there in body and spirit. I want to especially thank all those who shared their memories of him and what he meant in your lives. The kind, good and just a little bit wicked ripples that Brian sent into the world during his life will echo for a long time through you all. Please, enjoy this site that Brian's friend Evan built and add to it, if you can. Brian always lived his life by knowing that shared joy is increased and shared sorrow is lessened.
Romir Jimenez Romir Jimenez wrote on May 1, 2023 at 5:43 pm
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Brian. Iโ€™m still in shock and disbelief. Brian was a great team member and provided numerous laughs throughout the years. Every day, I looked forward to going to the office awaiting what Brian would say or do next. He was definitely one of a kind, with a tremendous, caring heart. He welcomed me to the Billing team and supported/comforted me as I adjusted to transitioning to the team. I will cherish the times we had like talking trash in fantasy football, the number of lunch outings in downtown Seattle, having โ€˜Fun Fridayโ€™ games, or just talking about sports in general.
Doug McDonald Doug McDonald from Phoenix wrote on April 21, 2023 at 9:32 pm
Brian - I spent years with Brian at work. He was always cutting up and the two of us together were a force. We even got banned from our bosses car. Lots of work memories. We visited the LNW Portland office together and shared an amazing fish dinner. Amazing in that we were shocked when they served us the entire fish. Hard to eat a fish when it was staring at you. We laughed over that one for years. But as close as we were as work buddies, there was one thing greater in his life. His family. He loved spending time with them and would regale us with stories of everything they did. He shared his family with us at work and we celebrated and commiserated with him. The thing I respect most about Brian is that he always held my feet to the fire. But he was fair about it. Calling BS if I wasnโ€™t fair or honest. The way he did it never made me feel threatened. R.I.P. Brian
Laurel Hess Laurel Hess from Vancouver wrote on March 16, 2023 at 1:22 am
I miss you, my brother. When I found out that you Hess's played cards as much as my family, I knew we were kin.
Susan Prince Susan Prince from Shoreline, WA wrote on March 13, 2023 at 12:08 pm
The sadness of losing Brian:

I don't have a brother, but if I could have picked one, it would have been Brian. I will miss his quirky jokes, particularly the ones that teased me for being a rabid feminist. In case you are wondering, I looked for a synonym for rabid. None work. Rabid is the word Brian would have picked to describe me.

The silence will be hard. No more brilliant political and historical analysis. No more learning geology and earth sciences from Brian.

His commitmentย to his family and friends was without equal. He left behind a wonderful family. And all of you, his family, have Brian withinย you: his caring, his knowledge, commitment, passion, and all the rest. It's quite a legacy.ย 

I miss him.ย 

And, now a story from SAFECO, where I met Brian in the late 1980's:
We worked on the same programmingย team. SAFECO sent the team to a seminar on how to get along and work as a team. You know, one of those that seems really silly becauseย don't we all try to get along?ย  One of the things that was stressed was how to approach a person when you needed them to do something for you. The gist was, don't just barge into their cubical and expect help but take time to butter them up first. Use small talk such as how is the weather or nice job on that last project. After two days of this we couldn't stand it anymore. So we settled on, "I like your socks". I don't remember how we got to this little saying, but we used it all the time. For example, "Brian, I like your socks. I need you to fix this program today, right away, it's a crisis." We didn't mess around with small talk, we just said, "I like your socks".ย  Women wore nylons and skirts at this time. We experimented with, "I like your nylons" but that was creepy and did not have the same ring. So, we settled on, "I like your socks." I wonder what others on the team thought of us?
Admin Reply by: Evan
Thank you so much for sharing, Susan! I like that story and your socks.
Richard Frey Richard Frey from Beaverton, OR wrote on March 9, 2023 at 11:07 am
Soโ€ฆ I have the other half of Evanโ€™s story.

I was 6 years old when we moved into SW Portland, just up the street from the Hessโ€™s. There were 7 of us boys in the neighborhood, all within 2 years of each other. (Kevin Meyers, Michael Crouch, David Oโ€™Dell, Brian Creamer (i.e. Beaver), Dirk, myself, and Brian Hess) We were raised at time where mothers said โ€œYouโ€™ve had breakfast โ€“ now, go outside until lunch and I donโ€™t want to get any phone calls about what you have been up to!โ€

โ€ฆand so it was, 7 boys, plus a few tag-along siblings, all banished outdoors, all standing in Hessโ€™s front yard, and all asking the same question โ€œWhat do we want to do today -- that we didnโ€™t do yesterday or the day before?โ€ We spent our childhood together - getting into mischief, going to the same schools, and learning lifeโ€™s lessons along the way. Even in times of darkness, Brian was this perpetual beacon of optimism, who had a knack for bringing people together, even when they had different viewpoints. He was the universal puzzle piece to our group.

As youths we rode our bikes into Multnomah Village, where his dad owned and operated a pharmacy. We had sleepovers, picked blackberries from the two vacant lots on our street, built a scrap-wood tree fort in Michael Crutchโ€™s back yard, and in the winter time went sledding down SW 36th Ave. Where the basement of your neighbors house, was the same height as the top of your chimney โ€“ it was a โ€˜steep streetโ€™. Nary a day went by, where we didnโ€™t see each other โ€“ at home, at school, or outside โ€“ even in the rainโ€ฆ

Then we went to high school and evolved into ruffians. Letโ€™s just say that we excelled at extra-curricular activities, some of which I wonโ€™t share publicly as the statuette of limitations have yet to expire. My dad recapped it best: โ€œHow can you miss 1 in 3 days of school and still get a B+ average?โ€ Brian and I were no dummies and knew how to work the school system. Much to the annoyance of Mr. McDonald, our school counselor โ€“ who, on our senior year, submitted our names and phone numbers to the USMC recruiter.

High school was a great time for us and we earned extra credits by participating in school plays. It was Brian who noticed that the (dehydrated & self-centered) lead actor was drinking loads of water from a wine skin โ€“ and then acting out that it was โ€˜fire waterโ€™ as he handed it back to the Indian Chief. โ€ฆso on closing night, vodka replaced water in the wineskin and the lead didnโ€™t need to act-out his โ€˜fire waterโ€™ experience. By the closing curtain, many of us could barely stand and the wineskin was bone dry.

With my parents heading off to the family beach cabin for the weekend, we experimented with a ยฝ gallon of Old Crow Whisky. Mr. Hess opened his front door to get a Sunday paper only to find Brian slumped between it and the screen door โ€“ his car parked sideways in the driveway โ€“ house keys in the ignition and car keys in the house lock. Mr. Hess just left him there in the morning sun. Eventually Brian crawled his way to the bathroom to worship a porcelain god.

Brian became the center of attention when his dad got him a used car โ€“ a red Plymouth Valiant. We went everywhere in that thing: fishing, hunting, movies, arcades, and on occasion โ€“ school. Somehow (cough) Brian came into possession of several cases of the schoolโ€™s industrial strength TP. It was Brian who drew up and coordinated the late-night TP battle plan. 8 homes in one night, the school was โ€˜a Buzzโ€™ Monday morning when select teachers all compared notes on their Sunday cleanup activities.

When we didnโ€™t have any gas money, we would sneak into the Hessโ€™s basement to play board games. D&D has just been released (this was long before there was ever a playerโ€™s handbook) it was a 3-book set of paperbacks no bigger than a 6x9 legal pad. Brianโ€™s oldest brother Buck, would become our DM and every Friday became D&D night in the Hess's leaky cement basement. We put up a 4x8 sheet of plywood between two support posts as a gaming table. During the rainy season, there was a 1โ€ of standing water on the floor. But we didnโ€™t care โ€“ Friday night It was also a boozy night and Buck had no problem buying us beer โ€“ if we supplied the cash up front.

This band of ruffian brothers finally grew into young men. We kept in touch during college, where Brian and I both went into computer programming. We watched as Brian courted Jennifer and they were the first of our group to get married. I followed suit shortly thereafter. After college came careers, kids, and adulthood. But here is where my story tapers off โ€“ Brian relocated to Seattle and the rest of us headed off in lifeโ€™s different directions. While some of us retained our youthful friendship over the years, Iโ€™m sad to say that Brian maintained just intermittent contact.

Shortly after Brian & I retired โ€“ around the time of Covid โ€“ I was able to reconnect with Brian and get caught up on the past 30 years. We so wanted to relive our youth again (as old men), but sadly โ€“ time ran out. Brian was one of my best childhood friends, Iโ€™ll never forget his positive impact on my life and how he helped to shape my personality, but just the good partsโ€ฆ

Some of Brian still lives in me to this day ~ and his joviality will be sorely missed.
Admin Reply by: Evan
Thank you so much for adding to the narrative, Richard! I wish you and Brian could have met up again, but maybe the world wasn't ready for the resulting mischief.
Evan Sass Evan Sass wrote on March 1, 2023 at 8:25 pm
I first met Brian in 1991 or 1992. He worked with my brother Eric at Safeco Insurance, and he came over to the house we were renting one night after work. We tried to figure out some of the rules to Shadowrun second edition, namely the pretty basic mechanic in such a game to shoot a gun at a bad guy. The rules made no sense to us and the pretend weapon did nothing, but what did make sense was that we should start playing games together.

We switched to Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, a game we all knew well, and played for years together over several editions of the game (the odd-numbered ones), with different people around the table over time. Among those people were Jennifer, and, as soon as they could read the rules, Thyrza and Barrett. Before they could earn their treasured seat at the gaming table, the kids (like I said, this was around 1992) would sometimes roll dice for us.

Around the table in the back room of their first little house in West Seattle, thanks to Brian, I finally developed the ability to do math in my post-collegiate brain, as I struggled to keep up with Brian's inner calculator. This is just one of the many ways in which he inspired and challenged me to improve, just by being himself.

Years later, my own kids would join us at Uncle Brian's gaming table. And though the people present at Game Night changed over the years, what stayed constant was the fun, the outright hilarity, and the comradeship, centered around whatever chair Brian was in. Despite various breaks throughout the years, we were still playing regularly right up until Brian got sick and couldn't comfortably sit at the gaming table any more. He lives on in our memories, and I hope we will soon get to the point where we can continue to gather, tell stories, and roll dice in his honor.

Please join me in remembering Brian here, and share with all of us the stories you'd be telling with him, if you could sit down with Brian one last time.