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Mark D Hess

February 7, 1960 ~ August 29, 2018 (age 58)
Mark D. Hess, 58, of Panama City Beach passed away at his home, surrounded by his loving family, on Wednesday, August 29, 2018.

Mark was born February 7, 1960 on Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, FL to Linda (Davis, Hess) Long and the late Donald Hess. He grew up outside of Oakland, CA, but moved back to Panama City in his teens. He was a 1978 graduate of Bay High School, where he played football. He then attended college in South Florida. Returning to Panama City Beach, he partnered with his father to open his first beach store, Marks Airbrush. Starting as a self-taught airbrush artist he worked hard to build the business. Over the next 40 years, his stores were known as Airbrush Island, Shirt Creations by Mark, Island T-shirts, the Black Hole Waterslide, Dolphins, Island T-shirt Company, Blue Island Beach Company, Big Willy’s Surf and Swim, Latitude 29 Pier Park, Seaside Swimwear, and Salt Life Pier Park. If you were to ask him what he did he would say with a smile, “I sell t-shirts.”

Along the way he also opened “The Rack-N-Q,” on 15th street in Panama City, the largest billiards hall in the tri-state area, where he hosted national pool tournaments from 1990-2000. Renamed “The Rack” by the customers, it was expanded to include a sports bar, karaoke and nightclub. Mark was an award winning billiards player, a gifted artist, and ingenious entrepreneur. Still, he made time to be “Coach Mark” and loved passing on the value of hard work and relentless effort to the players on the baseball and football teams he mentored.

He strived to excel at anything he put his mind to, and passed that drive along to his children. He got involved, and wasn’t one to just cheer from the sidelines. An excellent motivator and communicator, once he put things into perspective for you, any difficult task was achievable. He was an example to all of us of what diligence, perfect practice, fearlessness and the flexibility to change can achieve and this earned him tremendous respect. Mark was as compassionate as he was tough, and if you were in need he was always there to pull you through.

He loved chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, going to the movies, strawberries, working, spending time with his family, prospecting deals, and baked oysters – not necessarily in that order. His many hobbies included golf, riding motorcycles, boat trips to Shell Island, strategic rounds of black jack, taking care of “Mr. Fish” and spoiling Esco, his dog. In 58 years Mark lived and accomplished more than most people do in a hundred. Everyone loved the life stories he told with such humor and enthusiasm. He was a strong leader, a good friend, guardian over all, and will be dearly missed.
Mark is survived by his wife of 20 years, Julie (Householder) Hess; his children Melissa Gelardos (Jacob), Justin Hess (Kayla), and Ethan Hess; his grandchildren Clint Gelardos, Elizabeth Gelardos, and Lorelei Hess; his siblings Scott Hess, Valerie Barnett, and Terri Jordan and their families. Mr. Hess was predeceased by his wife of 10 years, Laura (Conley) Hess (1996), and his father Donald Hess (1992).

Funeral services will be held at 3:00pm, CST, Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at Kent Forest Lawn Funeral Home, and will be officiated by Pastor Greg George. Interment will follow in Evergreen Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends for visitation from 2:00pm to 3:00pm, one hour prior to the service. Expressions of sympathy and memories may be viewed or submitted at

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