It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I must report the passing of my long time friend and long time AU member Joe Hess. Joe had been a member here for many years, made many friends, helped many people with Amtrak, and had served for many years helping to plan the annual AU Gatherings. It wasn't at all unusual for Joe to travel into Chicago simply to say "hi" to an AU member who happened to be passing through Chicago. And of course he attended many of the AU Gatherings, as well as several OTOL Fests. And there was the infamous trip that Joe took along with another long time Au member, Joe Gore, where they rode Amtrak trains on and off for like a year chasing down places to eat good food and to hoist a beer (or two) as they celebrated their love of trains. They even commissioned special shirts for the event!! :lol I don't have too many details yet, and the info that I do have comes to me from Joe Gore. So thanks Joe Gore! I do know that Joe Hess just celebrated his 64th birthday last week while visiting with the other Joe. He then returned to his home in Michigan. Apparently he was having breathing difficulties and called a friend to drive him to the hospital yesterday, were sadly he passed away and headed off for his final & eternal train ride. I'm going to request that the current leadership please consider adding Joe to the Honored Members group as I think his long history with AU, as well as his service as a Committee Member for many years, warrants his inclusion in that group. Joe was a good friend to so many of us here at AU and he will truly be missed!!!!!! May every train run on time now for you Joe and I hope that heaven is full of train whistles for you!! RIP my friend!!!