Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Finding Napa or Napa Finding Me” May 2007.
Finding Napa or Napa Finding Me – Anna Hess
By JoAnn Busenbark
A girl who grew up in Scotland, whose father was an immigrant from Italy and her mother of Scottish decent, finding her way to the United States and then to “little old Napa” seems laden with heavy odds, but such is the tale of Anna Hess. We all have stories of our lives; some more complicated than others and some just plain startling.
While growing up in Scotland, Anna Bertellotti Hess’s parents ran a fish and chips establishment. She had one sister, now deceased. Her father had emigrated from Tuscany and married a Scottish girl. Their dream was for their daughter Anna to return to Italy, and that was her long-range plan. At the age of 21, she wanted to immigrate to her father’s native land, but plans and dreams change.
Anna and her cousin Violet were seeking adventure and Violet convinced Anna to consider the USA, more specifically, California. Life magazine at that time featured San Francisco and those pictures of Fisherman’s Wharf and the bay helped them to decide they were going to San Francisco.
Both young women had careers, Anna an x-ray technician and Violet a nurse. In 1962, after completion of immigration paperwork and receipt of a green card, Anna and Violet left Scotland for San Francisco. They had both acquired jobs at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City. Not knowing anyone, and having disappointed her parents by not going to Italy, Anna decided to get involved. She joined a bowling league. There she met a young man who was only 18. She being 21 and from a far away country was very interesting to him. The relationship blossomed and resulted in marriage, which has lasted over 40 years. Cousin Violet eventually returned to Scotland and married a Scotsman. Anna visits her every couple of years.
Ron Hess, Ann’s husband, brought Anna to Napa. A trained mortician, Ron came to Napa to work for Richard Pierce Funeral Home. He bought an engagement ring with his first paycheck and the rest is history. Ron retired several years ago from the City of Napa Police Department. Ron and Anna have two children and several grandchildren and enjoy much traveling and family activities. As Ron became intensely involved with the DARE Program, Anna joined in working with and for the program. Anna is the president of the DARE Foundation, and together they are known as the DARE couple.
Anna did not give up her career when she came to Napa, working for Kaiser in Vallejo and twenty-two years at the Queen of the Valley as an x-ray technician. As a mother active in her young children’s activities, there were years when Anna worked part-time.
Anna’s desire to write started with the work she and Ron were doing with the Marriage Encounter organization, in which they started as participants. Part of the program includes logging your own information, feelings and thoughts. For 15 years they hosted Marriage Encounter sessions and for the past 10 years have been a presenting team. They have written twelve chapters for their presentations. This writing inspired Anna in taking Creative Writing classes at Napa Valley College and she has had the pen in her hand ever since.
She has written short stories, and is finishing her two hundred-page memoirs, the story of the Scottish girl and her trip to Napa and beyond. She has also written a mystery novel and plans to continue her work in hopes of being published.
Are there any publishers out there wanting to read the work of a Scottish lass who is passionate about her writing and has a wonderful story to tell, as well as telling other stories of interest?
Anna Hess came to Napa to become the bride of Ron Hess. They have both left their mark on our community and contributed to making Napa our place of destination. When Anna left Scotland it was for adventure, and that is what it has been—a life adventure that has given her the passion to write. In addition, she connected to the community through her work at the Queen and the DARE organization. Other community contributions have been with Little League, Scouts and a variety of church activities. Ron and Anna are active participants at the Covenant Presbyterian Church. Anna has gone from serving fish and chips to serving her community. Thanks for coming Anna, you have made a difference and your parents would be proud.