Carolyn Kay Hess

SMITH CENTER - Carolyn Kay (Culbertson) Hess, age 65, passed away on Monday September 17, 2012 at the Smith County Memorial Hospital in Smith Center, KS.  Carolyn was born the daughter of Elmer and Lois (Jetter) Culbertson on July 7, 1947, in Audobon, Iowa.

Carolyn attended country school in Sac County, Iowa, and graduated from Sac City High School, in Sac City, Iowa in May 1965.  Carolyn attended nursing school at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa.  She graduated with her Nursing degree in May of 1968.

Carolyn met Gaylen Hess in Laurens, Iowa where their father’s worked together at Meffords.  Carolyn and Gaylen were married in Laurens, Iowa on August 31, 1968.  They moved to a farm in rural Havelock.   Carolyn was employed as a registered nurse, director of nursing and administrator at the Pocahontas Community Hospital from 1968-1995.  Carolyn earned her master’s degree from University of Minnesota in Hospital Administration.   Carolyn enjoyed working in small hospitals and communities.  If she saw an opportunity to help a hospital grow, she would take on that challenge.  Carolyn worked as a hospital administrator in Onawa and Hamburg, Iowa; and, finally Smith Center, Kansas.

Carolyn and Gaylen had two children: Stephanie and Christopher.  They have three grandchildren: MacKenzie Struve (12), Parker Struve (8), and Paige Hess (7).

Carolyn enjoyed working with the doctors, nurses, and staff at each hospital.  She helped start the Hospice in Pocahontas, Iowa.

Carolyn enjoyed being with her family, Kansas State football, gardening, and reading.

Carolyn is survived by her husband, Gaylen Hess (Smith Center); daughter, Stephanie Hess (Derby); son, Christopher Hess (Osaka, Japan); daughter-in-law, Kristin Hess; her three grandchildren; her mother Lois (Jetter) Culbertson; her sister Cathy (Jerry) Williams; brothers: Lonnie (Jeannie) Culbertson, Gene (Marybeth) Culbertson and Kenneth Jetter; sister-in-law Sandra Hess; as well as several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in death by her father Elmer Culbertson; brother, Jack Culbertson; mother-in-law, Dora Hess; father-in-law, Gordon Hess; and sister-in-law Lonna Hess.

Celebration of Life services will be held at 4:00PM Saturday September 22, 2012 at the United Methodist Church in Smith Center, KS with Pastor Laura Fricker officiating.

There will be a visitation from 3PM until 8PM on Friday evening.

Carolyn and her family were supporters of the Smith County Hospital.  The family requests that memorials be sent in lieu of flowers.  The memorials can be made to the Smith County Hospital Employees Fundraiser or Hospice Services of Smith County and can be sent in care of the mortuary.


  1. Lisa Phipps says:

    My heart aches for my dear friend Gaylen and his family..What a remarkable woman Carolyn was and is..I suspect she’s fixing Murphy a snack right now…Hugs to you all !

  2. Jean and Denny Lenz says:

    Gaylen, Steph and Chris and families- Our hearts reach out to you. So sorry to hear of Carolyn’s passing. She was a great lady to work with and a great friend too! So many fun memories of work and the school functions! Thoughts and prayers are with you. Sending hugs to you.

    Jean Lenz

  3. Pat Petty says:

    Gaylen, Steph, Chris and family: I hope you all know how much Carolyn loved and cherished you. I will forever remember the good ole days at Pocahontas Community Hospital, when I watched Carolyn go from Nurse to DON to Administrator. So very proud of her accomplishments. She was a good friend and I so enjoyed working with her. Good bye for awhile old friend. Even though I had not seen her in many years I have never forgotten her.
    Lois: I know that you have been through a lot lately, losing Elmer, your son and now Carolyn. My heart goes out to you.

    Pat Petty

  4. Darv Nomann says:

    Gaylen, Steph, Chris and families. It was quite a shock to hear of Carolyn’s passing. I have so many memmories from Pocahontas Community Hospital. You are all in our thoughts and prayers
    Darv & Kath

  5. Darv Nomann says:

    Gaylen, Steph, Chris and families. I was shocked to hear of Carolyn’s passing. I have many good memmories from Pocahontas Community Hospital during the years that we worked together. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.
    Darv & Kath

  6. Jessyka Shaffer says:

    Im so sorry about your lost gaylen , carolyn was a great head boss of the whole hospital. she will be missed greatly by us all. throughts and prayers to you and your family. if you need anything just let me and nathan know we live just right across the alley from you. hold on tight to the memories you have and will always have of her.

  7. Janice and Tim Blatchford says:

    Gaylen and his family – We are so sorry to hear of Carolyn’s passing. We have such great memories of the days when you lived neighbors to us here in Onawa. We are sending our thoughts and prayers to you.

  8. Brenda Olson says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Carolyn was a special person and I enjoyed working with you during these last years at the hospital. She will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to all your family.

  9. Sherri Johnston-McDowell says:

    So sorry Gaylen! Carolyn impacted so many lives over the years. She was so kind and caring to everyone! Many people are blessed to have known her. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. Phyllis Waldron says:

    My heartfelt thoughts are with you Gaylen and Sandra and your family.

  11. Ginger Ernst says:

    Dear Galen, Steph & Chris and families, I was so sorry to hear about Carolyn. She was such a nice lady..always smiling! She will be missed greatly! Just want you to know I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! God Bless! Ginger

  12. Ellinwood District Hospital says:

    Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family and your hospital family also.
    Medical Staff, Administration and employees of Ellinwood District Hospital

  13. Audri says:

    Steph and family. My thoughts and prayers are with you guys during this time and the future days. I didn’t know your mom of course, but I know you and the person she made you to be. I thank her for that. You are a true friend and I’m here for you 24/7. Love you.

  14. myrv samuelson says:

    My sympathy to all the family.My late wife worked with Carolyn for many years. Many good memories from years past.She was always so caring. Hold on to all the good things and may Gods hand direct you in the days ahead.

    Myrv Samuelson

  15. judy franzmeier says:

    Saddened to hear of Carolyn passing on; working at Pocahontas Hospital when she was there only brings good memories. Such a pretty,intelligent,caring person. Enjoyed working with her. Judy Franzmeier

  16. Donna Halcomb says:

    Sorry for the lost of my niece Carolyn. We will miss her beautiful smile and the dimples, she was always so happy. Love you always, Aunt donna (Culbertson) Halcomb & Family!!

  17. Paul and Pat Johnsonh says:

    Gaylen, Steph, Chris and family
    We are so sorry to hear of your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. We have many memories of school functions. She was a very caring person.

  18. Leo & Ceil Olson says:

    Dear Gaylen,Steph,Chris & families I was so shocked when I read the FDMessenger this morning about my dear friend Carolyn I am so thankful we got to see both of you at Elmer’s funeral little did I know that would be the last Big HUG I could give her She was a very special friend as well as a super co-worker I’ll always remember all the good times we had at PCH as well as outside the hosp. Love & prayers to all of you I know the grandkids will miss her greatly Take care of yourself Gaylen we’ll keep in touch Friends always Leo & Ceil

  19. Ray Lewis says:

    Gaylen…I am sorry for the loss of your best friend and wife. I know the coming months will be hard for you as you adjust to life without her. With that said, you and Carolyn raised a great woman in Stephanie. I see Carolyn in her everyday; from her great smile and laugh to her kind and caring heart. You should be proud in how you both raised her. Reach to her as you need too, I feel she’ll be a big help in easing your pain.
    As you go through this rough time I hope you know you can reach out to any of the many of friends you have and talk/laugh/cry as you need to. We are all here for you.
    Stephanie…I am sorry for the loss of your mom. You know how much I adored her. I see a bit of her in you everyday. Sometimes too much! Ha. Keep the faith and reach out to your dad and friends as you need too.
    I love you both,

  20. Barb Weidner says:

    Gaylen and family,
    I was so shocked to hear of Carolyn’s death. I worked with Carolyn for several years at Pocahontas Community Hospital and we also worked in surgery together. You are in my thoughts and prayers, May God give you strength and comfort in the days to come. Barb Weidner

  21. Cindy Arnold says:

    Gaylen and family,

    Carolyn was the first administrator I worked with at Pocahontas Community Hospital. I always enjoyed visiting with her. She made time for everyone and always had a smile on her face and an encouraging word! Caroline will be missed by many!

  22. Sue Chapman(Blankenhagen) says:

    Gaylen & family: I’m so sorry to hear of Carolyn”s passing . Randy archer had told me last year that she had been very ill. I always enjoyed stopping in unannounced when I was visiting in Smith Center. She was a great co-worker, DON & administrator @PCH. She will be sadly missed. Take care Gaylen.

  23. Mandy Stephenson says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends during this difficult time. God bless you all and may He give you peace, comfort and strength in the days to come.

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