Richard G. Hendrickson, a lifelong Bridgehampton resident and a cooperative weather observer for the National Weather Service for more than eight decades, died Saturday at 103 years of age.
Visitation is planned Friday, January 22, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Brockett Funeral Home, 203 Hampton Road, Southampton. The funeral will be held Saturday, January 23, at 11 a.m. at Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, followed by burial at Edgewood Cemetery in Bridgehampton.
In 2014, the National Weather Service named its 80-year service award for Hendrickson, and he became the first recipient. By then, he had already tallied 84 years of service, taking temperature and weather readings twice daily.
Watch a video the National Weather Service made with Hendrickson that year:
Hendrickson was a fount of knowledge, especially on the Great Hurricane of 1938, which he lived through.
“It was turmoil,” he told Dan’s Papers during a 2013 interview at his Lumber Lane home. “It was disaster and it was right at home.”
In 1938, he ran the family farm, Hill View Farm, with his father. Hendrickson, his brother and his sister had all been born in the big white farmhouse there, and while his sister went off to become a nurse and his brother became a lawyer, he stuck around the farm. They had about 25 Guernsey dairy cows and between 4,000 and 5,000 white Leghorn laying hens. The farm also had an orchard of apple and pear trees, some that dated back to the Civil War era, and fields of corn, hay, alfalfa, oats and other crops.
Back then, storm forecasting wasn’t what it is today, he said. East Enders expected a couple coastal storms each year. “Sometimes they’re severe, sometimes they’re not …” he said. “No one knew it was gonna be what it was.”