PENDER, Neb. — Yesterday was a sad day for everyone in the RV industry who knew and loved Jay Hesse, the dynamic 30-year leader of Automatic Equipment Manufacturer Company and Blue Ox Towing Products, who was laid to rest following his funeral in Pender.
Hesse passed away last Sunday after loosing his battle with cancer.
Darryl Searer, president of the RV/MH Hall of Fame, was asked by the family to represent the RV industry and deliver a eulogy at the service because of his long association with Hesse as a competitor, customer and close personal friend.
Searer said, “I was both humbled and honored by the privilege of saying a few words on behalf of the RV industry and personally about my cherished friend and colleague, Jay Hesse,” said Searer. “Standing in life a full 6-foot, 5-inches, Jay was a giant of a man, not only in physical stature, but also as a business leader, innovator and generous benefactor to our industry and his community.”
Searer talked about how Hesse transformed Automatic from a manufacturer of equipment for the agricultural market to diversify in the mid-1980s to a major player in the RV aftermarket. He also explained how and when he first met Jay nearly 25 years ago and what an impact the relationship had on him both as a colleague and friend.
“There’s so much more that I could say, but the tears in my heart tell me I should stop while I still have my composure,” said Searer. “I, like so many of you, will miss his giant smile and giant personality. Yes, Jay Hesse was a giant, a man with a giant talent and a giant heart. He will be remembered because he is loved and respected by so many of us in the RV industry.
“Ironically, last Friday a friend of mine and I were talking about Jay and both of us knew of his health issues and wondered how Jay was getting along,” he added. “We both said, ‘We need to call him and I intended to do just that this past weekend.’ Unfortunately, now it’s too late.
“But, if I could say something to Jay today, I’d say, ‘Jay, I love you, I’ll miss you and will remember you forever–and thanks for your friendship and all you’ve done.'”
SOURCE: RV/MH Hall of Fame press release