Kim Hess, the manager of the “Latenite at Lakeside” food service at Lagunita Dining Hall, died of an apparent heart attack at home on Saturday, May 15, according to Eric Montell, executive director for Stanford Dining. Hess was 58.

Kim Hess portrait

Kim Hess (Image credit: Valerie Kapualani Brown)

A memorial service for Hess will be held on Saturday, May 22, at 11 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Stanford Avenue. A reception will follow at 12:15 p.m. in the Roble Hall theater on Santa Teresa Street. Stanford Dining has created a memorial fund to defray the funeral and travel expenses for Hess’ family. Donations can be made at any Stanford Federal Credit Union or at the Stanford Dining Central Office on Pampas Lane.

The Latenite food service, which runs Sunday through Thursday from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., specializes in the food students crave while studying, including hamburgers, chicken strips, pizza and quesadillas.

High level of enthusiasm

In a statement announcing Hess’ death, Montell remembered him “as one of those rare and special people who kept a high level of enthusiasm, positive spirit and commitment to serving students while working until the early morning hours.”

Montell added, “Each night, he would welcome students to his kitchen and talk with them about their studies, sports or life in general. He was in his element during late night, as he would be busy working one of the stations while keeping in conversation with students.”

Shirley Everett, senior associate vice provost of Residential & Dining Enterprises, said Hess was “a special person with a great sense of humor, and a kind heart who demonstrated a passion for meeting the needs of students with a sincere commitment to excellence. I am extremely saddened by the loss of a wonderful R&DE team member.  Hess was truly the King of Latenite Dining!”

Popular among students

Hess’ popularity among students meant that his weekend death was the lead story of Monday’s Stanford Daily. Condolences also poured into the blog page of the Stanford Review as well as Stanford Dining’s Facebook page. Besides serving as the Latenite manager, Hess also participated in student activities, serving, for instance, as a judge for a Stanford Idol contest.

Among the messages posted by students is this one from Stephen Trusheim, a freshman from Minnesota living in Roble Hall: “I’m shocked and more than just a little bit sad. Kim took my order last time I went to late night, and I never thought that it would be the last time. I’ll always remember him as a funny, kind, awesome man – he was always the best sight I could see at 1:45 a.m. with a problem set due the next day. Rest in peace, Kim.”

The outpouring has been a source of comfort to his family, according to daughter Michelle Hess.

“He was very, very blessed to have such a loving relationship with Stanford and with the students there,” she said. “It was his second home. He loved the students, and he talked about them all the time. We are very grateful for all the love and support. We have been following all the messages.”

An informal gathering for students and staff who knew Hess was held Monday evening in the Lagunita Dining Hall.