Simpsonville’s most well-known resident turned 100 last Thursday, April 27, and continues to be celebrated by his many friends throughout the city.
Ralph Hendricks can be directly credited with Simpsonville’s establishment as a family-friendly community, and with shepherding its continued growth in a positive direction. This dedication has inspired gatherings both large and small as Simpsonville says not only “Happy Birthday,” but also “thank you.”
Mr. Hendricks served in the Air Force during World War II, then established his life in the city in the 1940s through his father-in-law’s building supply business. From there he founded Hendricks Properties, a company he is still active in running today. The communities of Poinsettia, Powderhorn, Westwood, and Hunters Woods were all a result of Mr. Hendricks’ vision and hard work.
From 1968 to 1971, Mr. Hendricks served as city councilman, then served another dozen years as mayor through 1988. During that time he helped lay the foundation for a city that would soon burst with growth.
A drive down Main Street is punctuated with examples of Mr. Hendricks’ impact on Simpsonville. In the 1990’s, the city’s branch of the Greenville Library System began to overflow its small space on College Street, so Mr. Hendricks donated the land for a new facility. While serving as mayor in the 1980s, he funded the iconic Clock Tower as a way to stimulate economic development in the city’s historic downtown. He also donated the land adjacent to the city’s railroad tracks for Veterans Corner, a space the community uses to honor locals who have served in the armed forces.
Not all of Mr. Hendricks’ work is as visible as the brick and mortar structures downtown. The Ralph and Virginia Hendricks Foundation was created in 1986, and provides scholarships for Hillcrest High and Woodmont High students who attend Furman University, North Greenville University, Anderson University, and Greenville Tech. His giving through the foundation extends to several area charities that lift up others, including Boy Scouts of America, Golden Strip YMCA, Greenville Rescue Mission, and Meals on Wheels, and many others.
Former Mayor Dennis Waldrop added that Mr. Hendricks serves his community in unseen ways as well. “I know of his help for many people who needed help because they had personal problems, had problems with their businesses, or were just down on their luck. He is a tough businessman, but has a heart of gold for folks who need help during hard times in their lives. This, I believe, is the very best part of his character.”
Mr. Hendricks and his wife Marion are members of First Baptist Church of Simpsonville where he serves as Treasurer, and he frequents the Coach House for breakfast and conversation with friends. In addition to still working and volunteering, he still drives himself and is in good health.
Events honoring his birthday were held at the GHS YMCA and the Rotary Club of Simpsonville, and the City of Simpsonville proclaimed last week “Ralph Hendricks Week.” Current Mayor Janice Curtis also awarded Mr. Hendricks the key to the city.
The benefits of Ralph Hendricks’ work and vision will be harvested in Simpsonville for many years to come, and his life has truly been well-lived in service to others.