Ralph's Story

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GLOUCESTER, MA: Gloucester lost another esteemed member of the Greatest Generation. Ralph Hendrickson, 90, of Gloucester and Clearwater, Fla., died Sunday morning, December 20. He was a kind and gentle soul who lived his own version of the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Ralph cherished the life he shared for 62 years with his true love, Paulita. He was a devoted father who was revered by his children.

Ralph was born on February 8, 1925 in Gloucester, the only child of William and Marjorie (Lufkin) Hendrickson. He had a simple and idyllic childhood consisting of fishing, pond hockey, and working on projects with his father, a skilled carpenter. His aptitude for learning was discovered early on and he was very proud to receive Gloucester’s coveted Sawyer Medal.

Ralph lost his father when he was just 17. Less than a year later in 1943, he graduated from Gloucester High School and was drafted into the Army. He was wounded twice, the second time severely, during heavy combat in the Netherlands and Germany in late 1944 and early 1945. He was awarded five medals, including a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. Later in his life, either the noise from heavy combat or the shrapnel from his war wounds caused him to become completely deaf. He never complained nor did he stop listening.

Back then, men like Ralph didn’t talk about their WWII sacrifice. Ralph looked ahead with optimism and the GI bill afforded him a fine education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Upon graduation in 1950, Ralph went to work as a structural bridge designer for the Department of Public Works in Boston where he spent his career, retiring in 1986. He was involved in the design of bridges for Rt. 128 and the I-95 John Whittier Greenleaf Bridge over the Merrimack River. He worked on the Blynman and Goose Cove Bridges in Gloucester.

Ralph found pleasure and beauty everywhere he turned. His retirement was enviable. For 25 years, he and Paulita enjoyed a lovely second home in Florida; Ralph planned their numerous travels. He was a voracious reader, researcher, and historian.

Until just a week ago, he was reading his daily Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and Gloucester Daily Times. He was still watching the Patriots, the World News, and Seinfeld.

Ralph possessed a keen Yankee wit; even the darkest of rooms would light up with his joyful and contagious smile.

Ralph is survived by five children, William Hendrickson and his wife, Laurie of Alexandria, his daughter and caregiver, Cynthia Hendrickson, John Hendrickson and his wife, Allyson of Hamilton, Lisa and her husband, Gerald Olson of Gloucester; Michael Hendrickson of Gloucester; five grandchildren, Kristine (fiancé Jess), Erik, Patrick, Kelly, and Fiona; two great-grandchildren, Makalya and Kiara. He was predeceased by his wife, S.Paulita (Blatchford) Hendrickson and a son, David.

In keeping with his wishes there will be no visiting hours or services. Burial will be private. Contributions to his memory may be made to the: American Cancer Society, 30 Speen St., Framingham, MA 01701. Arrangements are by the Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington St. Gloucester. Online condolences may be given at: www.greelyfuneralhome.com.
Published on  December 24, 2015
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