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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 3, 2007

Donald J. Hendrickson Sr.

CLARKSVILLE — Donald J. Hendrickson, known as the unofficial mayor of Clarksville, died on April 21, 2007.

"Donald took his duties as mayor very seriously," said his wife of 48 years, MaryAnn Hendrickson. She has a certificate saying he was "unofficially elected by the love and respect of the people of Clarksville," an unincorporated hamlet that has no other mayor.

"Daily," she said, "you could catch him with me and his dogs or just by himself, strolling, smoking his cigar around the town on his daily walks, talking to all his neighbors and fixing many problems along the way — a lawnmower, a light and electrical plug, a car...Sometimes all he had to do was give a hug or tell a joke to make someone smile and cheer them up."

She went on, "He always had two pockets filled with treats — candy in one for all the kids, big and small, whom he loved. They would get their daily ration of candy and he was always fixing their toys, their bikes, or a boo-boo. The other pocket held treats for all the dogs along the way.

"The kids, big and small, and the kids at heart loved to come and spend time with him at his home so they could play with his train village, wear the engineer’s hat, and blow the whistle."

Mr. Hendrickson was a professional firefighter and an emergency medical technician for the city of Albany for 29 years before he retired in 1999.

He was a volunteer firefighter for the Onesquethaw Fire Company for 35 years.

"The last seven years were solely devoted to driving the rescue squad at least five days a week, when necessary, with me at his side as the helper," said Mrs. Hendrickson. "For years, when we couldn’t get drivers, he drove seven days a week."

She went on, "He was a man you could count on to help in any way possible that he could. He was a great firefighter and had a vast knowledge, when asked for it. He used his knowledge to help teach the new members who joined the Onesquethaw Fire Department or the rescue squad."

Mrs. Hendrickson also said, "Donald, like all of us, was human — happy, sad, and, yes, grumpy sometimes, depending on the circumstances, but that was just him being him."

The couple met a half-century ago on a blind date and just celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary the week before Mr. Hendrickson died. His wife said he was a loving husband and father to their three children.

"On Thursday, April 26, 2007, my husband was laid to rest in the manner befitting the very much loved unofficial mayor of Clarksville," said Mrs. Hendrickson. "Over 1,300 friends and family gathered to say good-bye to a much-loved man as the Albany Fire Department Honor Guard stood beside his casket and his firehouse family from the Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Company gave a solemn service.

"He was carried to his final resting place in his beloved ambulance with me at his side," his wife said. "I rode with him because we always rode together. I wore my ambulance jacket.

"His firehouse family from Onesquethaw honored him on his last ride on this final journey with an honor like no other. As we drove through town, the church bells rang and neighbors stood in their driveways and saluted...

"The ambulance siren was sounded as we stopped in front of our home and, when we reached the firehouse, the tones rang three times as his firehouse family stood outside the Clarksville station and saluted as Donald answered his final call with me by his side."


Mr. Hendrickson was the son of the late Chester Boomhower and Alice Vink. He was the stepson of Roy Hendrickson.

In addition to his wife, MaryAnn Heidelmark Hendrickson, of Clarksville, he is survived by his daughter, Darlene Stanton, and her husband, Arthur, of Clarksville; and by his sons, Donald Hendrickson Jr., and his wife, Karen, of New Baltimore, and David J. Hendrickson of Selkirk.

He is also survived by his sisters, Helen Baranowski of Albany, Agnes McLaughlin and her husband, Thomas, of Albany; Mary Meyers and her husband, Thomas, of Schenectady; and his brother, Roy Hendrickson and his wife, Angie, of Albany.

He is survived, too, by his grandchildren, Brittany Ann, Erin, and Taryn, and by a special niece, Donna Marie, and many nieces and nephews.

Arrangements were by Meyers Funeral Home of Delmar.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Onesquethaw Rescue Squad, Box E, Clarksville, NY 12041.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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