Obituary: John Francis Hessmer Sr., 84

John Francis Hessmer Sr.
John Francis Hessmer Sr.

John Francis Hessmer Sr., 84, died on June 27th, 2018. He was a resident of Darien for 37 years and former resident of Glenview, IL.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Joan, sons John and James (Pearl King), daughters Jennifer and Julie Orlando (Anthony), and granddaughter, Emma Orlando. He is predeceased by his daughter Jean Marie Hessmer, his mother and father, Margaret and Howard Hessmer.

John was born in Brooklyn, NY on October 4, 1933. John graduated from Manhattan College in 1955 with a Bachelors of Science degree in civil engineering.

John retired from the Rockefeller Group Development Corporation (RGDC) in 2006 after a truly remarkable career in commercial real estate development and construction. For some 25 years with RGDC and more than 50 years overall, John played a leadership role in the development of some of the most prestigious and successful projects in the history of the industry. He joined RGDC in 1981 and provided construction services on some of the company’s most prominent development projects, including the International Trade Center, a seven-million-square-foot multi-use business park in Mount Olive, NJ; Rockefeller Group Corporate Park, an 845,000-square-foot office park in Florham Park, NJ; Rockefeller Group Foreign Trade Zone at 8A in Cranbury, NJ; and Miramar Town Center in Florida. Among his most heralded accomplishment was the opening of 745 Seventh Avenue at 49th Street, a new one-million square foot office tower in midtown Manhattan co-developed by Rockefeller Group Development Corporation and Morgan Stanley, which subsequently became the corporate home of Lehman Brothers and now Barclays Bank.

During the early and mid-1980s, John supervised the construction of three significant urban high-rise office towers, including: 444 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA, a one-million-square-foot multi-tenant office building which served as the Southern California headquarters of Wells Fargo Bank; the Irving Trust Operations Center, New York City, a one-million-square-foot operations center for Irving Trust Company: and Continental Center, also in New York City, a one-million-square-foot multi-tenant office building which served as the headquarters of Continental Insurance.

Prior to joining the Rockefeller Group, John Hessmer was responsible for over one billion dollars of design and construction projects across the United States. John started his career in 1955 when he joined the firm of George A. Fuller Co. in New York and later Chicago. From 1967 to 1977 he served the company as Senior Vice President and General Manager. As Vice President, Construction, for Olympia and York from 1979 to 1981, he was responsible for a variety of construction projects across the country. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Construction with Lester B. Knight and Associates.

John was surrounded by so much love during his final days. He will be remembered as an exceptional husband, father, friend, colleague, and resident of Maplewood of Darien. He was an avid sports fan and a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees and University of Iowa and Notre Dame football.

Family will receive friends at Edward Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien, CT on Sunday, July 1st from 2pm to 6pm.

A mass of Christian Burial will take place on Monday, July 2nd, at 10am at St. John R.C. Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien, CT. Interment immediately following at Spring Grove Cemetery in Darien.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in John’s memory to St. John R.C. Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien CT 06820 or Manhattan College, 4513 Manhattan College Parkway, Riverdale, NY 10471. www.lawrencefuneralhome.com.