In early May, when Tom Hendrickson moved his father, Alden Norman Hendrickson, into a residential care facility, he dreaded the thought of the COVID-19 virus finding its way in.

A few months later, his fear came true.

Hendrickson, a retired social services worker and U.S. Army veteran who lived in Eveleth, Minn., died Sept. 19 at age 91, less than two weeks after testing positive for the virus.

“Even though he had dementia, it’s still sad that something like COVID-19 took his life,” said Tom Hendrickson of Eveleth. “I want people to understand the seriousness of that and to stop listening to the politics that downplay the virus.”

Hendrickson was born in Genoa, Minn., to Matt and Amanda Hendrickson. After graduating from Cotton High School, he attended a nearby junior college and then transferred to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1953. After serving in the Army from 1954-56, Hendrickson returned to Minnesota to marry his wife, Arlene, and begin a 30-year career in social services for St. Louis County.

In 1971, he built a cabin on Elbow Lake that became the setting for countless joyful days for his children and grandchildren. He loved the outdoors, and he frequently took his kids out hunting or fishing.

Hendrickson’s youngest son, Fred Hendrickson of Blaine, recalled him as a talented hunter who took the time to teach him how be a good outdoorsman who understood and respected the environment.

Hendrickson was also an unbridled supporter of his family’s interests. Though he grew up on a farm and didn’t play sports, he became a champion of his children who did. When Fred played hockey, he recalled, his father cleared a rink on the lake they lived on so he could practice.

“He was probably the greatest hockey fan ever,” said Fred Hendrickson.

Hendrickson had an even temperament. He was reserved and didn’t speak unless he had something important to say, said his daughter Debra Hendrickson of Eveleth.

“He very rarely would get angry,” she said. “He was just very patient, he talked methodically, he was a deep thinker.”

Alden’s family and friends held a service in Eveleth on Sept. 25. Other survivors include his wife, Arlene, of Eveleth; son Jon of Hugo; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren along with many nieces and nephews.