Pastors' Memoirs

John Rallson Hendricks, Sr., 1910-1995

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John R. Hendricks wanted to be a minister almost as long as he could remember. When he was 4 or 5, a relative -- the Rev. Walter Hendricks of the Holston Methodist conference -- came to visit the Hendricks home in Glade Spring, Virginia. From that day, based on the tremendous impression the elder Hendricks had made, young John Hendricks' life was charted.

Hendricks graduated from Emory and Henry College in Virginia, then went off to the Yale Divinity School at the height of the Great Depression. He held three jobs at once to make his dream come true.

In his final year at Yale, in the spring of 1935, the Rev. Hendricks married Josephine Neal Massengill of Bristol, Tennessee, whom he had met while at Emory and Henry. The couple went on to raise three children -- Josephine Neal "JoNeal" Scully of Charlottesville, Virginia; John R. Hendricks, Jr. of Spruce Pine, North Carolina; and Ruthanne Taylor of Snow Creek, Virginia.

The Rev. Hendricks joined the old Baltimore conference and served in Virginia and West Virginia throughout his career. He began in Capon Bridge, West Virginia, driving 225 miles every Sunday to serve eight churches too tiny to have their own full-time ministers. He also served one Lutheran church that likewise couldn't attract its own minister.

The Rev. Hendricks spent most of his career in Virginia, serving churches in Middleburg, Falls Church, Norfolk, Roanoke, Waynesboro, Charlottesville, Newport News, Martinsville, and McLean. He retired in 1975 as administrator of the Hermitage United Methodist Home in Onancock, on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

Throughout his career, the Rev. Hendricks devoted himself to the cause of Methodist higher education. He was a founding trustee of Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk. Because of his commitment to higher education, his alma mater, Emory and Henry, awarded him an honorary Ph.D., a title he treasured the rest of his life.

The Rev. Hendricks was active in the administration of the church and served on many boards. He was the Portsmouth district superintendent from 1961 to 1967.

After his retirement, he and his wife returned to Martinsville, "because it is one of the friendliest places in Virginia," he told his family.

Mrs. Hendricks died in 1989. The Rev. Hendricks followed his wife on March 26, 1995.

In his final days, the Rev. Hendricks seemed to find a peace he had not known since before his wife's death. He died at Franklin Memorial Hospital surrounded by his children. In his final moments, he listened to his favorite hymn "Amazing Grace."

- JoNeal Scully, Daughter
- Sean Scully, Grandson



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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