John Lawrence Hendrickson, age 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 to the late Lawrence Raymond and Margaret Hedin Hendrickson. John was preceded in death by his late wife, Joanne Elise Elowson Hendrickson, and his great-granddaughter Stella Spoelker. He has been the devoted husband to Dorothy Dow ‘D.D.’ Ellis Hendrickson for 35 years.
John was a loving father to his four daughters and seven grandchildren: Michelle Hendrickson of Shepherdsville, KY; Elise (Bill) Luckey of Columbia, KY and their daughters — Joanne Luckey of Brooklyn, NY, Chelsea (Doug) Spoelker of Louisville, KY, Kaitlin (Andrew) Clark of 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 pal and little sister, Mary Kirchoff of Madison, CT.
John served in the Navy from 1950–1956. He primarily served on the submarine tender USS Bushnell stationed in Key West, FL. He shared many stories of his sailings in and out of Havana, Cuba during his naval service.
John completed his bachelor’s degrees in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1960. He attended Penn State on the G.I. Bill for which he was eternally grateful.
John took pride in his ability to earn a living and revelled in entrepreneurial pursuits since he was a young boy. Growing up, he said, “I always had five dollars in my pocket.”
Even through his 89th birthday, he enjoyed going into the office every day. His varied career started with a daily newspaper route peddling papers on his bike where he liked to brag that he had doubled his territory from 52 subscribers to 110 subscribers during his seven years with the Jamestown Post Journal.
He had many other jobs as a kid, including a job as a meat cutter at a local Lakewood, NY butcher shop before enlisting as a white cap in the Navy. His grandchildren are most grateful for his time as a soda jerk, where he mastered the world’s perfect milkshake.
Upon graduation from Penn State he became an engineer for Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company, eventually moving to Louisville as a sales engineer. His gift of gab and deep engineering knowledge launched his successful sales career.
John helped found the Quality Stone Company of Middletown in the early 1960’s, before starting his own company, South Central Rotary Drilling. South Central Rotary Drilling operated many drills in limestone quarries and coal mines throughout the state, but John especially loved drilling for the many interstate highway projects that were underway in Kentucky during the 1960s and 1970s.
Upon his first wife Joanne’s death in 1975, John sold South Central Rotary Drilling and invested in real estate closer to 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, ship models, cars and antique tools, just to name a few. His passion for clocks spilled over to his charitable interests where he and D.D. donated iconic 19-foot Seth Thomas clocks to the town of Pewee Valley and to Lindsey Wilson College.
An adventurer at heart, John was grateful that he had the opportunity to travel to many of the places he had only read about. John and D.D. enjoyed guided tours as well as exploring on their own – seeing things you couldn’t find on a tourist map. A favorite recent trip was to Havana, Cuba where John got to show D.D. and his daughters, Sarah and Elise, the places he had visited during his naval service in the 1950’s. He especially relished riding in the classic cars barreling down the Malecón Highway along Havana’s waterfront.
John loved his adopted hometown of Pewee Valley, KY. He served on the town council for many years and was instrumental in acquiring the iconic train caboose placed at the center of town. During his tenure as Pewee Valley Police Commissioner, a train was famously pulled over and ticketed for speeding through his beloved Pewee Valley.
No account of John Hendrickson’s life would be complete without mentioning Chautauqua Lake, NY. To John, Chautauqua Lake was a sacred place. He recounted his early days of sailing, ice-skating and fishing with his dad. His first of many sailboats was named Rhapsody. After many summers of visiting Chautauqua during the nine-week season, he and D.D. bought two homes on the Chautauqua Institution grounds, where they spent summers for over two decades. The larger family’s best holiday was July 4th, where everyone gathered for fun and fellowship. John and D.D. practiced radical hospitality hosting friends, family and loved ones from near and far. It was their greatest joy.
To know John Hendrickson was to experience his sharp sense of humor, generosity, love for storytelling, big heart and booming voice. He expressed his love for music with his beautiful tenor voice. As a youth he sang in a boy’s choir, was a member of a men’s quartet called ‘The Four Flats’ and he drummed in a drum and bugle corps.
John supported many charities and causes locally, throughout Kentucky and in his hometown of Jamestown, New York. He was a major donor at Lindsey Wilson College for more than 35 years; supported The Stella Effect founded in honor of his deceased great-granddaughter to assist trisomy families; The Chautauqua Institution near his boyhood home as well as youth, athletic and arts programs in Oldham County.
Expressions of sympathy should go to the The Hendrickson Scholarship Fund at Lindsey Wilson College (Lindsey Wilson College Development Office 210 Lindsey Wilson Street, Columbia KY 42728 c/o Hendrickson Endowed Scholarship); The Stella Effect to assist trisomy families (The Stella Effect PO Box 5668 Louisville KY 40255); or the Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church (Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church 119 Central Ave, Pewee Valley, KY 40056).
Visitation will be at Stoess Funeral Home in Crestwood, KY on Monday, October 18 from 4-8 p.m. EST. A day of service visitation will be held on Tuesday, October 19th at the Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church at 11:30 a.m. EST with funeral service to follow at 1 p.m. EST.
Burial at Floydsburg Memorial Cemetery will be immediately after the service. Taps will be played by his granddaughter, Camille Townswick, and his dear friend Donald E. Townswick.
This obituary is a courtesy to the family by Stotts-Phelps-McQueary Funeral Home.