Jerome (Jerry) Hendrickson was the youngest son of Pearl and Marie Kubik Hendrickson. He had twin brothers, Ralph and Robert and a younger sister, Emily. He was born on March 29, 1931 in Gary, Indiana and departed on April 20, 2019 in Branson, Missouri. He lived a life of purpose, determination and achievement during his 88 years.
At sixteen, working at Joe Tittles Meat & Fruit Market, he made a decision that set the course of his life. Changing his date of birth on his birth certificate from 1931 to 1930, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The night before he took his Oath, he attended a Crown Point, Indiana high school dance and met his wife, Vyra. They became pen pals and close friends until the day he called Vyra from a phone booth in California with a pocket full of change, and a proposal. They married in Crown Point on October 14,1950 and shared 68 years together.
In the US Navy, Jerry entered the Aviation sector. While serving as a flight engineer, he flew 102 missions in the Berlin airlift. While training in reciprocating and jet propulsion engines, he served on board the USS Hancock during the Korean War. As his love for Vyra and his family grew, his time away grew more important so he separated from the Navy and joined the US Air Force as a Jet Engine Technician. His love of flight motivated him to obtain his Private Pilot’s License. His final tour of duty was during the Vietnam conflict where he was stationed in Saigon, Tuy Hoa and Tan San Nhut, AFB. Jerry was proud of his 20 years of service and achieving the rank of Senior Master Sergeant.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Vyra, daughter Virginia (Ginny) Cain and her husband, Dave, daughter Valeria Dudley and her husband Tom, four grandchildren, Lori Copeland and her husband, Donnie; Shelly Vanderpool and her husband, Garrett, Craig Nunnally and his wife, Christine, and Carrie Spreter and her fiancé, Kris. He has twelve great-grandchildren, Jack, Lydia and Esther Copeland; Caiden, Cole and soon to be born Cooper Vanderpool; Sebastian, Jade, Matthea, Oliver, Charlotte and Calvin Nunnally; and Samantha Spreter. He has one great-great granddaughter.
Jerry and Vyra lived a life full of travel. During his service to his country, he and his family lived in California, Florida, Ohio, Texas, New Mexico, and Virginia while stationed in the United States. While serving in the Navy, Jerry travelled to the Philippines, Japan, Hawaii and visited many ports of call in Europe. While serving in the Air Force, he took his family overseas with stations in England and France and tours in Austria, Italy, Germany, San Marino and Switzerland.
After 10 years of employment at McDonnell Douglas, Jerry and Vyra purchased acreage in Lebanon, Missouri where together they designed and built their own home and for thirty-five years enjoyed an active role in the community working with the Lions Club, volunteer fire department, and County Historical Society. Jerry also worked as a Deputy Sheriff, part-time Park Ranger and volunteered as Curator of the Old Jail museum.
Jerry had a great interest in numismatics. As young marrieds, he and Vyra would exchange dollar bills for coins at their local bank and sift through them looking for Lincoln pennies, Buffalo nickels and Mercury dimes.
Jerry was a good man, strong in his love of Vyra, wise in his career decisions, and determined to provide a good life for his family. He was well loved.
Services will be Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 12:00 P.M. in Missouri Veterans Cemetery, Springfield.