Log In

Leon Hess Edit Profile

founder of the Hess Corporation

Leon Hess, American Oil company executive. Served with Army of the United States, 1942-1945.


Hess was born on March 14, 1914 to a Jewish family in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Hess worked as a driver for his father's company and - after it went bankrupt in 1933 during the Great Depression - he reorganized the company.


He served in World War II, rising to the rank of Major, and serving as the fuel supply officer for General George S. Patton where he further developed his logistical expertise. After the war, using an innovative network of smaller terminals, ' success continued. In the late 1950s, he built his first refinery.

And in 1960, he opened a chain of gas stations. In the early 1960s he built the world's largest oil refinery at the time on St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands in order to take advantage of federal tax benefits. The refinery was able to secure foreign refiner status (allowing it to circumvent the federal rule that required the use of higher-cost US-flagged vessels when shipping oil to the East Coast) while also receiving subsidies from the United States Department of Energy as a domestic refinery.

In 1963, his company, Oil and Chemical, went public. In 1969, using the proceeds from the sale, he acquired the Amerada Petroleum Corporation, one of the largest producers of crude oil in the United States and - as part of the purchase - merged it with his former company, Oil and Chemical - to form the Amerada Corporation. served as chairman and CEO of Amerada until 1995. New York Jets In 1963, he was part of a consortium that bought the New York Jets which included , Sonny Werblin, Philip H. Iselin, Townsend B. Martin and Donald Lillis.

His initial investment was $250,000. The Jets played in Shea Stadium in 1964 after four seasons in the Polo Grounds. In 1984 moved the team to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

When he owned the Jets, he would eat dinner after almost every home game at Lusardi's. Wilentz's father was the former Attorney General David T. Wilentz who prosecuted Bruno Richard Hauptmann in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case. They had three children: Marlene Zirin, Constance H. Williams, and John B. . died at Lenox Hill Hospital on May 7, 1999 from a "blood disease".

In 2011, was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. In 2014, the New York Jets selected , along with former WR Wayne Chrebet, to be the year's inductees into its Ring of Honor. The Leon Business School at Monmouth University and the Leon and Norma Center for Science and Medicine were named for him.


  • He built an oil terminal in Perth Amboy, New Jersey out of old oil tankers and aggressively underbid his competitors to win Federal oil contracts.


Served with Army of the United States, 1942-1945.



Philip H. Iselin