Pewee Valley – John Lawrence Hendrickson, 89, passed away on Friday, October 15, 2021 at his home in Pewee Valley, KY, surrounded by his loving family. John was born on October 5, 1932 in Jamestown, NY, the son of the late Lawrence Raymond and Margaret Hedin Hendrickson. John was predeceased by his late wife, Joanne Elise Elowson Hendrickson, and his great-granddaughter Stella Spoelker. He has been the devoted husband of Dorothy Dow ‘DD’ Ellis Hendrickson for 35 years. John was a loving father to his four daughters and 7 grandchildren: Michelle Hendrickson of Shepherdsville, KY; Elise (Bill) Luckey from Columbia, KY and their daughters – Joanne Luckey from Brooklyn, NY, Chelsea (Doug) Spoelker from Louisville, KY, Kaitlin (Andrew) Clark from Pewee Valley, KY; Sarah Townswick of West Hartford, CT and her children – Charlie Townswick, George Townswick and Camille Townswick all of West Hartford, CT; Janet (David) Goodman of Woodstock, GA and their daughter Ashley Goodman also of Woodstock, GA. John had several great-grandchildren: Adelaide, Stella and Margot Spoelker, Hadley Clark and was awaiting the arrival of his first great-grandson, Liam Clark. John is also survived by his best friend and little sister Mary Kirchoff of Madison, CT.
John served in the Navy from 1950 to 1956. He served primarily on the USS Bushnell submarine stationed in Key West, Florida. He shared many stories of his crossings to and from Havana, Cuba, during his naval service. John received his BA in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1960. He attended Penn State on the GI Bill for which he was eternally grateful. John took pride in his ability to make a living and reveled in entrepreneurial pursuits since he was a young boy. Growing up, he said, “I always had five dollars in my pocket. Even until his 89th birthday, he enjoyed going to the office every day. His varied career began with a daily newspaper peddling newspapers on his bike where he liked to brag about doubling his territory from 52 subscribers to 110 subscribers in his 7 years with the Jamestown Post Journal. He had many other jobs as a child, including a job as a meat cutter at a local butcher’s shop in Lakewood, NY, before enlisting as a White Cap in the Navy.
His grandchildren are very grateful for his time as a jerk soda, where he has mastered the world’s perfect milkshake. After graduating from Penn State, he became an engineer for the Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company, before moving to Louisville as a sales engineer. His gift for chatter and his in-depth engineering knowledge launched his successful career in sales. John helped found the Quality Stone Company of Middletown in the early 1960s, before starting his own business, South Central Rotary Drilling. South Central Rotary Drilling operated numerous drills in limestone quarries and coal mines statewide, but John was particularly fond of drilling for the many interstate highway projects underway in Kentucky in the 1960s. and 1970. Upon the death of his first wife Joanne in 1975, John sold South Central Rotary Drilling and invested in real estate closer to his home in order to raise his daughters, Michelle, Elise and Sarah. These holdings include American Mini Storage and numerous rental properties in the greater Louisville area. John was an avid collector. He had a passion for 18th century American furniture, rugs, clocks, dominoes, model ships, cars and antique tools to name a few. His passion for clocks extended to his charitable interests where he and DD donated iconic 19 foot Seth Thomas clocks to the town of Pewee Valley and Lindsey Wilson College.
Adventurer at heart, John was grateful for having had the opportunity to travel to many places he had only read. John and DD enjoyed the tours as well as the explorations on their own – seeing things you couldn’t find on a tourist map. A recent favorite trip was to Havana, Cuba, where John was able to show DD and his daughters, Sarah and Elise, the places he had visited during his naval service in the 1950s. He especially enjoyed riding in the mountains. classic cars speeding down the Malecón highway along Havana’s waterfront. John loved his adopted hometown of Pewee Valley, KY. He served on the city council for many years and was instrumental in the acquisition of the iconic train van placed in the center of the city. During his tenure as Pewee Valley Police Commissioner, a train was notoriously stopped and fined for passing through his beloved Pewee Valley. No account of John Hendrickson’s life would be complete without mentioning Chautauqua Lake, NY. For John, Lake Chautauqua was a sacred place. He recounted his beginnings in sailing, skating and fishing with his father. His first of many sailing ships was called Rhapsody. After many summers visiting Chautauqua over the nine-week season, he and DD purchased two homes on the grounds of the Chautauqua Settlement, where they spent summers for over two decades. The big family’s best vacation was July 4th, where everyone came together to have fun and share. John and DD practiced radical hospitality by welcoming friends, family and loved ones from near and far. It was their greatest joy. To know John Hendrickson was to experience his keen sense of humor, his generosity, his love for storytelling, his big heart and his booming voice. He expressed his love for music with his beautiful tenor voice. In his youth he sang in a boy’s choir, was a member of a men’s quartet called ‘The Four Flats’ and he played drums in a drum and bugle corps. John has supported numerous local charities and causes, throughout Kentucky and in his hometown of Jamestown, New York. He was a major donor to Lindsey Wilson College for over 35 years; supported the Stella Effect founded in honor of her late great-granddaughter to help families with Down’s syndrome; The Chautauqua establishment near his childhood home as well as youth, sports and arts programs in Oldham County.
Expressions of sympathy should be directed to the Lindsey Wilson College Hendrickson Scholarship Fund (Lindsey Wilson College Development Office 210 Lindsey Wilson Street, Columbia KY 42728 c / o Hendrickson Endowed Scholarship); The Stella Effect to help families with Down’s syndrome (The Stella Effect PO Box 5668 Louisville KY 40255); or Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church (Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church 119 Central Ave Pewee Valley, KY 40056). Visitations will be held at Stoess Funeral Home in Crestwood, KY on Monday, October 18 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST. A day of service visitation will be held on Tuesday, October 19 at the Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church at 11:30 a.m. EST with a funeral to follow at 1 p.m. EST. Interment at the Floydsburg Memorial Cemetery will take place immediately after the service. Taps will be played by his granddaughter, Camille Townswick, and his dear friend Donald E. Townswick.
Published by Courier-Journal from October 16 to 18, 2021.