JAMES ALEXANDER HESTER, JR (July 20, 1944 – May 11, 2019), of Burlington VT and Westport MA, passed away peacefully at home on May 11. He lived graciously and optimistically with Parkinson’s Disease for 12 years until multiple complications brought his body to a halt. Curious, playful and dedicated to improving healthcare systems, he was also a magnetic personality who naturally mentored all he met; a loving father to his five children; and devoted partner to his wife. He modeled his intentions to live and to die well with grace and dignity.
The oldest of eight children of a career Air Force officer, Jim earned his undergraduate degree in aerospace and aeronautical engineering, then a doctorate in urban studies, from MIT. Very early in his career, he discovered his passion for applying those engineering and planning skills to improving how health care is delivered and financed. Throughout his nearly 50-year career, he managed to contribute to the healthcare system as academician, researcher, health plan executive, policy maker, innovator, connector and mentor.
As an innovative national leader in the formation and implementation of health care policy, Jim contributed to transforming the nation’s healthcare system. His pivotal contribution to sustainable financing options for population health was on the cutting edge, for both Vermont and the nation. On May 16, 2019 the VT Legislature issued a resolution detailing his many accomplishments and contributions to healthcare reform: https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2020/Docs/CALENDAR/sc190516a.pdf
Jim Hester inspired others to tackle big problems by looking at them with a new lens. To his large extended family, he also instilled a love of hiking and nature. His hundreds of striking photographs are witness to his sensitive eye that used light to speak what he felt within. Jim’s courage and clear thinking in the midst of chaos, along with his endless generosity, inspired all he met.
He is survived by his soulmate and wife Sarah W. Bartlett; four children Lael, Joshua, Faith and Caitlyn (Jason predeceased him); four grandchildren; and seven siblings, along with numerous nieces, nephews and long-time friends and colleagues.
The Jim Hester Leadership Award in Population Heath has been established at the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership to provide leadership development training for a promising population health professional. Donations to this award may be made to the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership with “Jim Hester Award” on the memo. Please mail to 217 Commercial Street, Suite 406, Portland, ME 04106.