Biography and Stories: Charles Hendrickson, 1935 - 2020
Charles George Hendrickson, 85, died at his home 17 December 2020 in Saint Peter, Minnesota. He was born 10 June 1935 in Willmar, Minnesota to Roy and Frances (Eklund) Hendrickson. He graduated from Willmar High School in 1953, Gustavus Adolphus College in 1957, and the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville in 1963 with a Master's degree in Physics after building his own furnace from salvage parts based on his calculations to grow a single crystal of aluminum. The cone-shaped crystal still sits on his desk. He had originally started his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, but paused to teach physics at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. While there, his interest in astronomy led him to restore the telescope tracking in their observatory to operating condition. He also built his own 6" reflecting telescope: grinding and silvering the mirrors himself. After completing his degree at the University of Arkansas, he taught at Union University - Jackson, Tennessee and Northeast State University - Tahlequah, Oklahoma. After meeting his future wife Birgitta Gillberg, he taught physics at Mankato State College in Minnesota. Birgitta and Charles were married in Sweden in 1964. The same year he was approached by family friend Rev. Lambert Engwall to build a pipe organ for First Lutheran Church, Winthrop, MN. Having been his passion since helping with the installation of the organ at his home church during high school, this was the start of the business he would lead until his retirement. Hendrickson Organ Co. began in the garage at the family home on College Avenue in Saint Peter and soon moved to a new building on the north end of town. Charles enjoyed a successful career as one of the most prominent builders in the Upper Midwest with over 100 installations in the region. His sons Eric and Andreas spent innumerable hours "at the shop" and eventually succeeded him in the business. Charles' wife, Birgitta, died in 2018 and his younger sister, Ann, in October 2020. His sons Eric and Andreas Hendrickson, daughter-in-law Eva, and grandchildren Roy and Vivian live in Saint Peter.
Memories of Charles Hendrickson by David Engen, January 2021
David Engen worked for Charles in the Hendrickson shop from 1970 - 1983, working every aspect of organ building, including special emphasis on tuning and voicing. Here he shares a longer account of his days in the shop and memories of a variety of specific instruments that Charles' created.