Jim Hester, innovative leader in health care policy

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.

OBIT: James A Hester Jr

Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Hebert on 2010 Peaks for Parkinson's hike shortly after Jim was diagnosed.

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:

OBIT: James A Hester Jr

Photo courtesy of Claire Applemans, taken on an arboretum walk near Santa Cruz, CA

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.


Family Information

He is survived by his soulmate and wife Sarah W. Bartlett; four children Lael and his wife Brianne of Arvada, CO; Joshua and his wife Kate of Revere, MA; Faith and her husband Joshua Hester-Reyes of Randolph, VT; and Caitlyn of Denver CO (son Jason predeceased him in 2001in Burlington, VT); four grandchildren Baela, Paul, Quinn and Alice; seven siblings Dan Hester and his wife Vicki of Ocala, FL; Mike Hester and his wife Patsy of Portland, OR; Phil Hester and his wife Barbara of Cincinnati, OH; Rita Hester and her partner Claire Applemans of Santa Cruz, CA; Lois and her husband Craig Neumeyer  of Dripping Springs, TX: Margaret and her husband Charley Bartley of Spring Branch, TX; and Robert and his wife Jaime of League City, TX: along with numerous beloved nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and - nephews, long-time friends and colleagues.