Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 8, 2012

MARK MAYNARD: An icon has left us

Mark Maynard
The Independent

ASHLAND — Like most of you, I’m relieved that Election 2012 is over — and that’s all I have to say about that.

But that’s not all I have to say.

We’re going to dedicate this space to a Greenup County icon who passed away yesterday at the age of 96.

George Hendricks was a lot of things to a lot of people. Words like kind, generous, loving all fit him perfectly.

“He was my hero,” said Shane Fields, a 35-year-old from Greenup who was one of many impacted by Mr. Hendricks through the Boy Scouts.

Mr. Hendricks was a longtime Russell resident, the first Eagle Scout in Greenup County, a loving husband of 62 years, a role model through the Boy Scouts and he lived a life worth telling.

As a young boy, one of his first jobs was selling the newspaper at the old Raceland racetrack.

As an older man, he thrilled many while playing the role of Santa Claus at Christmas in many parades and department stores.

He was always thinking of others.

When George was married to Mary, he did it while on leave from the Army Air Corp during World War II. He came home on a Monday and was married that Friday. He had also promised his Boy Scout Troop that he would take them camping on Friday.

Always a man of his word, he took them camping on his honeymoon night.

Luckily for him, sweet Mary intervened and sent her brother to stay with the boys so George could be with her.

After all, he was going back to war the next Monday.

“Behind every good man is a woman and Mary was a good woman,” Fields said.

Hendricks got into scouting and would hitchhike from Greenup into Scioto County, Ohio, were Camp Oyo stood. History says that camp was originally going to be a prisoner of war camp but it was never needed.

He was supposed to go to th first Boy Scout Jamboree but it was cancelled because of small pocs. He went to the second Jamboree, which turned out to be the first one, the following year. He also attended the World Jamboree where he escorted the queen of Holland around.

When he was a Scout leader in later years, many who were awarded the Eagle Scout wanted Hendricks to be the one who recognized them.

A man of many talents, Hendricks was also a member of the Singing Kernels and, in his 70s and 80s, traveled around with a karaoke machine and sang at nursing homes.

The workers at Woodland Oaks, where Mr. Hendricks spent his last days, remembered when he came and sang to the residents.

Are you impressed yet?

In September, at the age of 96, he went with a group of World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., for a glimpse at the monuments.

“His mind was better than most,” said Fields, an Eagle Scout himself. “He could recite poems and songs from when he was 6 to 8 years old.”

Hendricks became Santa Claus after growing a beard for the Russell Centennial parade in 1976. Those around him bragged so much about his resemblance to Santa Claus that he decided to accept the role. It became a gig he dearly loved, including some time at Hill’s Department Store (you may have sat on his lap) and some rides in the Lexington Christmas parade.

His impact on this area is greater than most. It’s not in the hundreds but many more.

“I would say thousands,” Fields said. “He could not imact a life that that person’s life would not imact another.”

Even unto death, Mr. Hendricks was still giving. He gave his brain to science.

He’d already given his heart to Greenup County.

The man simply never stopped giving.

Pass it on.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.