Richard Haelig Hendrickson died on February 20, in the home where he grew up and where he raised his own children, on Lumber Lane in Bridgehampton. He was 73. As he wished, he was with family, as he had been for the past months of his struggle with colon and liver cancer. Mr. Hendrickson was the son of local farmer and historian Richard G. Hendrickson, and a teacher, the former Dorothea Haelig. Survivors said he was a sweet, quiet, reliable, and intelligent man who loved to tell stories and share his vast knowledge. He was an avid reader who enjoyed science fiction and history of all kinds. Well-known and much loved in his community, Mr. Hendrickson touched many people’s lives, they said.
Mr. Hendrickson attended the Bridgehampton School, Phillips Andover Academy, Suffolk Community College and Columbia University. One of the first graduates of Suffolk Community College, he was the first to graduate with a 4.0 average, survivors said. He went on to Columbia University, studying British Empire history, and received his bachelor’s degree in 1968. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He continued working on his master’s degree while being employed by the university as director of dormitory security when Columbia was the site of student demonstrations and sit-ins. Mr. Hendrickson was amused to relate that he was actually the person who opened the gates to allow the police onto the campus. Little did he know what would ensue.
In 1971 he married the former Janet Beman of Blauvelt, New York, and they moved back to Bridgehampton in 1972. A few years later he opened his bicycle repair business, The Bikeman, on the family farm. He continued fixing bicycles and showing kids how to fix their own bikes for 30 years. With public radio and opera or classical music playing throughout the day, his shop offered a safe and educational place for local kids to spend their free time.
Always interested in vehicles with wheels, Mr. Hendrickson was a motorcycle owner and rider from the age of 17. He took yearly motorcycle tours through New England, many with his wife or daughters. He was also an avid motor racing enthusiast, attending the Bridgehampton Race Circuit and following the Formula One circuit.
Mr. Hendrickson is survived by his father, Richard G. Hendrickson; his wife, Janet; and three daughters, Rachel Haelig Hendrickson, Leah Rogers Hendrickson and Sara Knight Hendrickson. Mr. Hendrickson was cremated.
There will be a brief graveside ceremony at the Edgewood Cemetery on Friday, February 28, at 2 p.m. A memorial is planned for later in March.
Memorial donations may be sent to The Hampton Library, P.O. Box 3025, Bridgehampton, NY 11932.