MANCHESTER - Melvin Arthur Hendrickson, age 91, passed away peacefully on February 18, 2013, in Manchester, Vermont.
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Mel was born in Duluth, Minnesota, the son of Melvin and Nellie Hendrickson and is survived by his sister Phyllis Kedl of St. Paul, Mn.
He graduated from West High School in Minneapolis, Mn., and attended the University of Minnesota. Mel was a champion swimmer, setting records in freestyle events and medley relays. Mel's swimming abilities qualified him to try out for the U.S. Olympic Swim Team prior to the cancellation of the 1940 Olympics due to WWII.
Mel served in the U.S. Army as part of the Signal Corps unit stationed in the Aleutian Islands. In 1942, he married his high school sweetheart Jean S. Leighton,
Jean, age 88, passed away on April 9, 2011, in Orlando, Florida. Jean was born in Minneapolis, the daughter of Ralph and Dorothy Leighton and was predeceased by her brother Ralph. Jean, or Tatie to her friends, also graduated from West High where she was a champion springboard diver.
Jean was well known for her avid gardening, love of dogs, ping-pong prowess, clever poetry, passion for movies, and following the latest political dramas.
Jean was an astute collector of antiques and Americana, including a vast doll collection, and especially proud of the exhibits she created for Orlando's Church Street Station during several holiday seasons. Jean also was a proud member of the Delta Gamma sorority at the U. of Minn.
Mel and Jean were married for 69 years, raising their family in Minneapolis and then on the East Coast. When Mel retired from corporate life in 1978, he and Jean moved from Baltimore, Md., to Middletown Springs, Vt., where they owned and operated the Inn on the Green. For over 10 years, they hosted family gatherings and created a bike tour destination famous for Mel's blueberry pancakes and Jean's dolls, and where guests arrived as strangers and departed life-long friends.
Upon selling the Inn, Mel and Jean spent summers at their beloved Lake Champlain camp, "Stony Hollow" in Benson, Vt., and winters in Orlando. They played Santa and Mrs. Claus at several Orlando retail centers, to the delight of scores of children and parents.
Mel and Jean are survived and greatly missed by their five children: Nancy Sandell, of Cohasset, Mass.; Susan Hawkins, of Colchester, Ct.; Steve Hendrickson, of Minneapolis, Mn.; Betsy Bleakie, of Manchester, Vt.; and Lucy Hendrickson, of Tyler, Mn. Preceding them in death was their daughter Cynthia Purrington. Mel and Jean leave 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Published in Rutland Herald from Apr. 12 to Apr. 14, 2013