Students at St. Mary's University in Winona, Minn., who show leadership potential and hold high moral and ethical standards are getting financial help with their education courtesy of William Hendrickson.
The St. Mary's alumnus who worked as a chemist in corporate America and served as director and chairman of the Board of St. Jude Medical Inc., in St. Paul, established the school's Tomorrow's Leaders Scholarship program, which provides financial assistance to students who commit to a lifestyle of ethical behavior and good character. He created the scholarship program in 1988 to identify, encourage, nurture and develop creative, ethical and globally oriented leaders, said his daughter, Julie Hendrickson, of Montpelier, Vt.
"Hendrickson said on more than one occasion that his objective was to do nothing less than change the world," said Brother William Mann, president of St. Mary's. "His generosity and vision touched the lives of hundreds of students through scholarship programs based upon good character. These students have gone on to become the change Bill wanted to see in the world."
Hendrickson, 91, died of natural causes on Dec. 4 in Naples, Fla., where he had been living with his wife, Jean.
Born in Plainview, Minn., Hendrickson graduated from St. Mary's in 1939. He earned a master's degree in chemistry from the University of Detroit in 1941 and a doctoral degree in chemistry and chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Decline in ethical leadership
During his career that began as a scientist, he also served as vice president of Ayerst Labs, a division of American Home Products, from 1961 to 1967, executive vice president from 1967 to 1969 and group vice president of American Home Products from 1969 to 1980. He was on the board of St. Jude Medical from 1981 to 1993. He also was a member of the board of Research Corporation Tech0nologies, the American Chemical Society and the American Academy of Sciences.
Hendrickson established scholarships at St. Mary's and other institutions, set up a speaker series and in 1994 founded the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership at St. Mary's to combat what he identified as a decline in ethical leadership of leaders in positions of authority.
"That bothered him," his daughter said. "You could be a wonderful leader, get a tremendous amount done, and do it in a straightforward and fair way. He was all about making things happen and in the right way."
The institute was moved to the school's Twin Cities campus in 2007 to expand its programming.
Hendrickson established the Tomorrow's Leaders High School Scholarship program in 2003 to encourage Midwestern high school students to complete leadership and service projects in their schools and communities. In 2007, he founded the Hendrickson Family Foundation, which is committed to alleviating poverty through education, Julie Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson might not have had the chance to go to college without help from others. Because of that, he felt it necessary to "pay it forward" by giving money to students, something he was still doing until recently, Julie said.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Hendrickson is survived by three sons, Bob of Kapaau, Hawaii; Tom of Berkeley, Calif., and Don of Pinehurst, N.C.; a brother, John of Villa Park, Calif., and six grandchildren.
The family will hold a private memorial service.