Robert D. "Bob" Hendricks, or "RD," as he allowed his students to call him, was a popular English and journalism instructor at Fargo South High School for many years.
His death at 78 in February 2016 saddened his former students; not wanting the memory of him to fade, they planted a tree by the school in his honor.
Today, two of his students who were members of the class of 1978, tell Neighbors of their thoughts about him.
Dave Kolpack, Fargo, says, "It is really incredible how many students he introduced to journalism. Several of them went on to jobs in reporting or communications, and the ones who didn't left Fargo South with an appreciation of the freedom of the press and its important function as a watchdog that can investigate and report on corruption."
Bob began his teaching career in Fullerton, Nebraska, where he taught from 1960 to 1963. He then taught in Kearney, Nebraska, from 1963 until 1965, when he and his family came to Fargo.
He began his 36-year teaching career in Fargo's public schools at Central High School just prior to that school burning down in 1966. He then taught at Fargo North High School for two years while South High was being constructed. He was one of the original staff members on the first day classes were held at South, where he taught until retiring in 2001.
Even with all of his teaching experience, Bob wanted to keep learning, so he spent one summer as a news intern at The Forum.
Dave, a former Forum sports reporter who now is with the Associated Press, says his father (the late Forum sports editor Ed Kolpack) was "a good influence at home ... but Bob is truly the one who convinced me to be a reporter."
Laurie Lind, Fargo, daughter of this column's writer, says that Bob "took great pride in South High's Sudhian newspaper and yearbooks, for both of which he was the advisor, and in the many NIPA awards his students won over the years. He walked a lot of students through the basics of journalism, many of whom (myself included) went on to careers in communications.
"He was tough," Laurie says. "He was strict, he was demanding. And he also took a lot of students under his wing and became almost something of a father figure.
"Several of us, his journalism students from the class of 1978, agreed we wanted to do something in his honor after he passed away, having fought a long battle with Parkinson's disease. We consulted with the administration at South and upon their recommendation purchased a tree.
"We planted the tree and buried a time capsule with it, in RD's honor, in an area near the school's south entrance that is dedicated to the memory of faculty and students who have passed away."
The time capsule contained pictures of the class of '78 journalism group, a "mouse," which is a ball of rubber cement the students used to clean up layout boards, a red pen which symbolized editing, and other items. For that endeavor, Dave says, "We had a lot of support from previous principal Richard Wagner and principal (at the time and today) Todd Bertsch."
The ceremony, in August 2016, "was nice," Dave says. Bob's wife Nancy, who he married in 1960, and her mother were there, as were two of Bob's children.
Four members of the '78 class who had Bob as one of their teachers were Teresa Haider, who still lives in Fargo, Brad Melroe, Eagan, Minn., Dave and Laurie.
And today that tree is strong and healthy, just like the memories his students have of Bob Hendricks.
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