Cover photo for Ronald D. Hees's Obituary
Ronald D. Hees Profile Photo

Ronald D. Hees

August 23, 1931 — June 5, 2024


Ronald D. Hees

Ronald Dean Hees, 92 of Gaylord, passed away Wednesday, June 5, 2024, at The Porches in Gaylord. 

Born on August 23, 1931, in Detroit, Ron was the son of Hiram Henry and Elizabeth (Edwards) Hees.  Ron grew up in Plymouth, graduating from Plymouth High School in 1949, where he was the sports editor for his school newspaper, The Pilgrim Prints, an athlete and a fierce debate team competitor.  In his youth he was also a Boy Scout, becoming an Eagle Scout in 1948.


Ron served honorably in the United States Marine Corps from 1952-1954.  Following his military service he returned home to Plymouth.  


Intense, independent and competitive, Ron was a born leader with an entrepreneurial spirit, an innovator in the wood manufacturing industry, as well as an author and advisor in other industry related ventures.  He revolutionized the manufacturing of interior doors with his invention of the honeycomb manufacturing process of hollow core doors, a process which allowed manufacturers to greatly increase manufacturing capacity.  Ron was founder of Downriver Forest Products in Wayne, MI and later, Custom Forest Products in Grayling, MI and Sparta, TN.  


Though his work was a large part of his life, he was an avid golfer.  He loved the Michaywe Community in Gaylord and the PGA National Community in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida where he enjoyed spending winters.  He was also a musician who played guitar and piano.  In his professional, family and personal life, Ron was always “The Leader of the Band”.


When Ron’s brother, Gary, died in 1997, Ron founded The Hees Family Foundation (HFF) in his memory.  Gary was an educator in the Plymouth school system, the foundation’s goal is to fund scholarships, non-profits, and other educational endeavors, and is still active today.


He is survived by his three sons, Dave Hees of Ada and their children, Erin (James) Heaney, Laura (Lynn) Weddle, and Amy Hees;  Dan (Judy) Hees of Cookeville, TN and their children, Ron (Kristie) Hees, Jason Hees, and Jon (Aubrey) Hees; and Mike (Suzy) Hees of Grayling and their children, Andy (Justine) Hees and Whittney (Mike) Hees; 12 grandchildren; and his sister-in-law, Annabelle Hees.  


Ron was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Gary; his former wife, Betty, who was the mother of Ron’s three sons; and his wife, Kathy.


A memorial service will be held at 3:30 PM Friday, June 14, 2024, at Gaylord Community Funeral Home & Cremation Service, preceded by visitation beginning at 2:00 PM.  A reception will follow the service with those details to be given at the service.  Those who wish are asked to consider memorial contributions in Ron’s memory to Compassus Hospice 1723 M-32, Gaylord, MI  49735.


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