Obituary of Donald Hendricks
Don Evert Hendricks, a lifelong rancher and farmer from Simla Colorado, passed away October 16, 2018 at a Calhan care facility. He was 89 years old.
Don was the first of five children born to Evert and Olive (Tipton) Hendricks. He weighed less than two pounds when he was born at his parent’s country farmhouse southeast of Ramah on March 31, 1929. The doctor who was summoned didn’t expect the infant to live but family members rallied to help and Don survived. His makeshift bed was a shoebox kept in a drawer. Care givers place heated bottles around him for warmth.
The Hendricks family later settled southeast of Simla and that’s where Don was raised, along with his siblings Dolores, Derald, Ted, and Judy. The children attended a one-room schoolhouse called Glaser School, making the one mile trek either by walking or on horseback. Don later transferred to Alt Vista School and then Simla High School, where he graduated in 1947.
Through a government program after World War II, Don acquired his own tractor. It was a John Deere model B and Don used the tractor to work the farm for himself and his dad. The tractor was a welcome addition because Don’s dad did not own a tractor and was still using horses to do the farming.
Before Don became a full time rancher and farmer he worked for Nichols Tillage Tools in Simla, the Elbert County road crew out of Agate and Benjamin’s feed elevator in Agate. He also did some construction work.
Don was first married in 1950 and the union produced two sons, Douglas (Doug) and Duane. Don later remarried in 1975 to Ruth Kari and she remained Don’s wife and helpmate for the past 43 years.
Don launched his full time ranching and farming career in 1963 when he acquired the DeLair place, 13 miles southeast of Simla on County Road 137. Prior to that he and his family lived at what was known as Grandpa Tipton’s place, three and a half miles to the northeast.
Don had a strong work ethic and was known as a “workaholic”. He wasted no time in making improvements on his new property and was able to turn it into a successful farm and ranch operation. Always a faithful caretaker of the land, Don was especially fond of planting windbreak trees. At first he watered the trees by hand and later used an array of drip systems. The Don and Ruth Hendricks place would come to be known for having some of the most impressive sets of windbreaks in the region. They were honored in 2002 as Conservationists of the Year by the Double El Soil Conservation District.
For the first four years of their marriage, Don did the farming and ranching while Ruth, a registered nurse, worked full time at the Simla Good Samaritan Center nursing home. Dramatic changes came in November 1979. That’s when Don was stricken with a devastating care of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the nerves. The disease hit Don hard and fast. He went from walking to totally paralyzed in one day.
After a four-month hospital stay Don was released with a doctor’s prognosis that he would never walk again. Fueled by faith and dogged determination, Don would eventually rise up to prove the doctors were wrong. Ruth put her nursing skills to good use as she helped Don down the long, hard road to recovery. The in-home rehabilitation took years but Don was eventually able to use braces and crutches to walk again even though he was still paralyzed from the knees down. He also regained the partial use of his arms and hands. Ruth said that Don’s disease caused him to fall countless times, but he refused to stay down. He always got back up, ready to keep trying, and he never broke a single bone in any of his falls.
Don and Ruth managed to keep their cattle ranch going by hiring ranch hands, especially in the winter time. Family members and friends also pitched into to help. Considering the doctors said Don would never walk again, it was amazing to arrive at the Hendricks place and see Don walking around and then using his four-wheeler to check cattle, crops, windbreaks, etc. Don’s disease may have slowed him down but it never stopped him.
Don was preceded in death by his parents Evert and Olive Hendricks, his son Doug Hendricks, his sister Dolores Gaddy, his other sister Judy Hendricks, and by sisters-in-law Barbara (Koehn) Hendricks (Ted’s wife) and Barbara (Borgwart Moore) Hendricks (Derald’s wife)
Don is survived by his wife Ruth (Kari) Hendricks of rural Simla, two brothers Derald and Ted Hendricks both of rural Simla, his son Duane Hendricks and wife RaLynne of Peyton, one grandson Clint (Becky) Hendricks and their children Audrey, Emmy and Abigail Hendricks all from Elk Mountain, Wyoming, and one granddaughter Karen (Josh) Lee and their children Dominic, Kira Lynn, Kodi Jean and Josslyn Lee, all of Falcon, Colorado. To sign the online guest book or to send the family your message of condolences.
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