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Leon Hess
Personal Information
Born March 14, 1914
Died June 7, 1999(1999-06-07) (aged 85)
Career information
Year(s) [[{{{debutyear}}} NFL season|{{{debutyear}}}]]–[[{{{finalyear}}} NFL season|{{{finalyear}}}]]
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Leon Hess (March 14, 1914 – May 7, 1999) [1] was the founder of the Hess Corporation and the former owner of the New York Jets.


Leon Hess was born on March 14, 1914. His father was a German immigrant who worked as a kosher butcher and an oil delivery man. Leon started his oil company with his father's one-truck oil delivery business in Asbury Park, New Jersey during the Great Depression.[2] "Everybody was broke in those days," Hess said. "I had to pay for the truck before I could deliver the oil." He supplied oil to George Patton's troops during World War II. He married Norma Wilentz in the 1940s, and had three children: Marlene Hess; Connie Hess Williams; and John B. Hess, who succeeded him as CEO of Amerada Hess Corporation. His father-in-law was David T. Wilentz, former New Jersey Attorney General who prosecuted Bruno Hauptmann for the kidnapping and murder of the son of Charles Lindbergh. He acquired Amerada Corporation in 1969 after an ownership battle with Phillips Petroleum. He stepped down as chairman and CEO in 1995. Forbes magazine in 1998 listed his net worth at $720 million. He was part of a consortium that bought the Jets of the American Football League in 1963, when they were the New York Titans. In 1977 he bought out his partners Sonny Werblin and Philip H. Iselin. The New York Jets played in Shea Stadium in 1964 after four seasons in the Polo Grounds. In 1984, Hess moved the team to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. After his death, American businessman Woody Johnson bought the Jets from Hess` estate in 2000. Johnson purchased the team for $635 million, the third-highest ever for a professional sports team and the most for one in New York. The Business School of Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ is named after Leon Hess.


Hess died at Lenox Hill Hospital, near his 625 Park Avenue home, on May 7, 1999 from a "blood disease". He had been hospitalized with a broken hip in early April and discharged, but a day later he re-entered the hospital. [3]


  1. Social Security Death Index; March 13, 1914; Social Security Number 138-14-7723
  2. Anderson, Dave. " Sports of The Times; Hess Mulled The Return Of the Jets", The New York Times, May 9, 1999. Accessed September 23, 2007. "I was born and brought up in Asbury Park, N.J., Hess said that day in a rare appearance at a news conference."
  3. "Leon Hess", New York Times, May 9, 1999. Retrieved on 2007-02-14. “Peacefully on May 7, 1999 of complications from a blood disorder. Beloved husband of Norma; cherished father of Constance and Dr. Sankey Williams, Marlene Hess and James Zirin, John and Susan Hess; adored grandfather of Elizabeth and Jennifer Williams, Peter and Margaret Friedland, Michael, David and William Hess; dear brother of Betty Gilbert, dear brother-in-law of Ruth Hess, Warren and Rhoda Wilentz and the late Robert and Jacqueline Wilentz, treasured son of the late Ethel and Mores Hess and son-inlaw of the late Lena and David T. Wilentz.” 

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