Herb Hendriks ’40, 1918-2014

March 12th, 2014

Herbert E. Hendriks ’40, emeritus professor of geology, died March 11 in Cedar Rapids. He was 96.

people_hendriks_na_geode Hendriks discovered his love of geology as a Cornell College student, and returned to teach at Cornell after graduate study as a member of the geology faculty from 1947 to 1983. He was an innovator and pioneer in his field. As a graduate student he questioned the conventional thinking that continents were fixed, embracing the theory of continental drift. In the 1940s he became concerned about the sustainability of natural resources and began to petition for an environmental studies course. He was finally able to offer that course in the 1960s, and in 1975 founded and directed Cornell’s Environmental Studies Program, one of the first in the nation. Hendriks talks about environmental studies in this video.


He believed strongly in the importance of fieldwork and, with his wife Luretta Tipton Hendriks ’43, established the Hendriks Student Research Fund. He set an example to students as a successful field investigator, both as an exploration consultant to major petroleum companies and as a professor for over 20 summers at Camp Norton field station in Wyoming. Hendriks was a leader in the national, regional, and state geological societies, and in 1975 the Iowa Academy of Science honored him with its Centennial Award.

Hendriks was awarded the Honorary Degree Doctor of Science in 2008 from Cornell. He was also a past member of the Alumni Board and Class Agent.

A memorial service will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 16, at Morgan Funeral Choices in Mount Vernon. The family will greet friends at Morgan from 1:30 p.m. until the service begins. Herbert Hendriks full obituary is available online through The Gazette.

31 Responses to “Herb Hendriks ’40, 1918-2014”

  1. heather heusinkveld anderson says:

    I have fond memories of attending Mr. Hendricks class in the early 80′s. I have led many previously disadvantaged youth groups up Table Mountain in Cape Town South Africa and repeated to them what I learned from him. I’m just sorry that I never told him so.

  2. Thomas Adams says:

    As a Freshman at Cornell, I decided to take a Geology course knowing nothing at the time about the subject. Herb made the subject come alive both in lectures and in field trips out to, as I recall, the Lisbon Quarry. In addition, to being a great teacher, you had the opportunity to know him as a person as well. Great memories.

  3. John J. Delibos says:

    I was contemplating law school by the beginning of my Sophomore year. As a non-science major, I had already taken Biology, Molecular Biology, and Chemistry in High School. I thought Geology might be a good fit, as a year of science was required; and it was one I had not studied. The class was on the second floor of Law Hall, west side of the building I believe, in one of the large classroom/lecture halls with sixty students that made one think of a big Ivy League school. In walks Professor Hendriks and I thought at that moment, ‘I’m going to love this class’…and I did! What an intelligent, memorable man—years ahead of his time. How privileged I was to have him as my professor. I can just see God answering all of Professor Hendrik’s questions with the same patience and enthusiasm as he answered mine.

  4. Mark Pohlmann says:

    I took “rocks for jocks” because I was prelaw and really didn’t want to take a natural science. Herb’s enthusiasm and teaching skills made me care about the subject, taught me much that I retain to this day, and I still think of him when I drive my a rock outcropping and remember our field trips and Herb with his pick ax always teaching. It was role models like Herb that caused me ultimately to go into teaching myself.

  5. John J. Delibos says:

    Mark, thank you for that astute observation about your feelings when passing rock outcroppings. As soon as I read it, I thought, ‘I think the same thing and feel the same way’. But had it not been for you blogging about that I would possibly only have thought of it again as I drive to L.A. tomorrow and see the Earth’s heaved-up layers. I, too, think of Professor Hendriks every time I see that same geological feature.

  6. Helen (Lyn) Ward Page says:

    Professor Hendriks helped me, an English major, to see and understand so much about the physical world around me. Field trips delighted us as we learned about the ancient inland seas and discovered fossil trilobites and crinoid stems in the Iowa cornfields; classroom lectures explained the ages of the earth and how glacial moraines also shaped and enriched those cornfields and the verdant Iowa landscape; labs encouraged us to taste and scratch and identify local and exotic rocks and minerals, and reminded us how to remember the Mohs scale of hardness, “Tulsa Girls Can Flirt And Other Queer Things Can Do” (talc, gympsum, calcite . . .first letters of each word . . . !)

    I still love to look down from an airplane window and find dendritic stream patterns, and I recall Professor Hendriks telling us that plate tectonics was a viable theory, but couldn’t be seriously taught as part of the course because it wasn’t in the textbooks yet!

    Thank you so much, Professor Hendriks. You forever enriched and enlarged my appreciation, understanding and experience of the world around me.–Lyn Ward Page

  7. Michael Rogers '67 says:

    When I came to Cornell as a freshman, my mother (Inez Crees Rogers) remarked that she had known the Hendriks family for many years, having grown up in the Atalissa, Iowa area. She spoke so highly of him that I never failed to follow his distinguished career. Condolences to the family. 7T

  8. Craig Weart says:

    Herb was the reason I changed my major from forestry to Geology. Classes with him were always fun and interesting due to his great love of the subject. I had the pleasure of visiting with Herb last October while attending my class reunion and homecoming. He was just as sharp as he was when I had him as a professor. He remembered me right off and also my Dad who also had him as a professor. He also remembered all of the people from my class that attended field camp in Wyoming. His passion for the outdoors and enthusiasm in sharing his knowledge with his students was an inspiration during my years at Cornell and continues to this day as I teach Earth Science to my students. Herb may be gone but will remain in our memories forever. Rest in Peace Herb.

    Craig Weart
    Class of 1983

  9. Marcia McKeag Hawker says:

    Dear Luretta,
    I am so very sorry to learn of Herb’s death. I enjoyed my class under him in 1950 and my connection with you as one of your original “Tri Phi’s”. Our group may not have lasted long but we sure had fun while it did. My husband and I always enjoyed having Herb and his bus load of students stop by our sporting goods store in Manchester, IA while they were on their way to a Geology Field Day in northern Iowa.

  10. Marcia McKeag Hawker says:

    Craig Weart is the son of one of my dear friends from Cornell. It was interesting to read his comment.

  11. David Harsh says:

    Perhaps a memory common to many of us: day one of class Dr. Hendriks walked in with a huge dictionary of some sort. Then proceeded to place geology in perspective of its 4.5 billion years represented by that volume. Then he concluded that all of written human history could be found only on a part of the last page of that huge volume. Another memory, a trilobite discovered on a field trip was embedded in the rocks of our fire place at the time of our retirement when we built our home. Lots of fun having people look for it and then telling its story. Thanks Dr. Hendriks for enriching my life.

  12. Harlan Newell says:

    One of my fondest and most recounted memories of Prof Hendriks was when on a field trip he bit off and chewed on a chunk of rock. Although I changed my major from Geology to Econ, I will always cherish the intensity with which Prof Hendriks threw himself into his lectures to make a point, even if it did mean eating rocks.

  13. Frank D. Jones, Jr. '59 says:

    We were very fortunate to be seated with Herb at our 50th class reunion banquet. We laughed a lot. He was a fine man and well respected by all.

  14. Terrie Thompson Cornell says:

    Herb had a profound impact on my life. I came to Cornell in 1963 hoping to be a geology major, having volunteered at a paleo museum in New York State. Herb encouraged me all along the way. In my senior year he recommended that I attend a summer field camp taught by Dusty Rhodes (a Cornell geology alum) at Woods Hole, Mass. and Pierre, SD. I was accepted and met my future husband there. Over all these years Herb and Luretta stayed in touch. I, too, visited him during my 45th in 2012 and found him sharp as a tack. Fortunately, last fall Bill and I went up to Wyoming and visited Timberline Ranch, home of the Miami-Cornell field camp. I took pictures and sent them to Herb, who wrote me two wonderful letters about the camp, then and now. Writing was difficult for him at 95, but he made the effort and I cherish those letters. Dear Herb will be sorely missed. I’ll never forget the slides that illustrated his geology lectures. My sympathy to Herb, Jr. and Carol Ann.

  15. Dick Myers -'68 says:

    I was not a science major, but Herb made first-year geology entertaining and informative for everyone. I was sitting in the front row of his class when Herb began to talk about the Aftonian Interglacial Period, then proceeded to inform us that it was named after a small town in southwest Iowa – Afton. I jumped out of my seat and advised Herb that I was, indeed, from Afton. He got quite a kick from that. I proceeded to write an article for the Afton paper detailing the interglacial period, which was quite a revelation to all of our citizens. I have had the pleasure of running into him a few I times when back on campus. He was always very gracious and remembered exactly who alums were if he ever had you in class. Herb was truly an educator to be respected and was a great ambassador for Cornell College. I extend my sympathy to his family.

  16. Roger Wait says:

    My freshman year at Cornell I took Herb’s geology class and found it to be interesting and enjoyable. Dr. Hendriks was also my freshman class advisor and we all enjoyed those Saturday morning meetings at the Hendrik house. I especially enjoyed the field trips to the Lisbon Quarry and McGregor, Ia. Definitely one of my favorite professors and a great role model for Cornell students that had the opportunity to know him.

  17. Michelle Krezek says:

    Dr.Hendricks was such a fabulous professor and such a character – with his plaid pants and stripped shirts! I loved that is afternoon class started at 1:15 pm, so he could go home for lunch with his wife and tey would watch “All my Children” together.
    Going to his house for dinner was a highlight of the block. He had such a wealth of knowledge and experience. He loved teaching and he loved Cornell.
    My sympathy to his family.

  18. Keith Lowell Class 1949 says:

    I was one of five geology majors who learned along with Herb about Geology. Herb was finishing his doctorate at the U. of Iowa and we were his first students. We all learned, Herb how to teach, and the students about geology. Dr. Miner died the summer of 1947 and Herb was hired to replace him. I took every geology course offered by Herb.
    I ended up as a petroleum geologist in Calgary, Alberta and the company hired Herb to conduct field work in British Columbia one summer. We kept in touch all these years and I had a long letter from Herb earlier this year.

  19. Keith Lowell Class 1949 says:

    I was in the first class that took their geology from Herb. Herb took over the department in 1947 after Dr. Miner died. Herb was working on his doctorate at the U. of Iowa and Herb learned teaching and we learned geology those two years. I’m sure he kept learning all of his life.
    The company I worked for in Calgary, Alberta hired Herb one summer in the 1970′s to do field work in British Columbia. We’ve kept in contact with each other all these years and we got a letter from Herb earlier this year. Keith Lowell

  20. Marlin Steele, '59 says:

    I had heard about geology courses under Herb even before I entered Cornell, so I was excited to take Physical and Historical courses under him Freshman year. My glowing comments about his lectures and the field of geology itself I think rubbed off on my room-mate, Jim Chaplin, ’59, and he ended up majoring in geology, as I did. Ultimately, Jim went on to get advanced degrees and work as a geologist, while I did not. But such good memories! How we couldn’t wait to absorb even more of what Herb had to teach, not only as Freshmen but in advanced courses as well.

  21. Lois Renter says:

    Herb was my geology teacher in 1947 though I did not graduate until 1965. By that time he and Luretta were good friends of ours. From that class I kept a lifetime interest in the landscapes we saw in our travels and passed on knowledge to our children. Now they are both gone and there is a hole in our lives.

  22. Jon Stark '52 says:

    Herb was our advisor when we reactivated Gamma Tau Pi in 1949. He had been a Gamma in the early 1940′s before it was dissolved. He was a strong help to us and provided very uselful guidance. Without him I doubt it we would of had the courage to re-start the Gammas. May he rest in peace.

  23. Melinda Riddler Tucker says:

    I wondered if something had happened when I didn’t hear from Herb after his birthday in January. He will be missed. It’s wonderful to read how he encouraged so many students during his years at Cornell. Of course, I am one of them. I met my husband, Dan, at Camp Norton field station in Wyoming when Dr. Hendriks and Dr. Martin were teaching in the summer of 1966. Herb never complained about my being at the end of the line when we were in the field (I had the shortest stride in camp). He and Dr. Hinman encouraged my interest in paleontology and earth history. That’s what I talked about with my students for 27 years. Dan and I send our sympathy to Herb, Jr. and Carol Ann. God bless you both for phoning him every day at Woodlands.

  24. Jim Atty says:

    I will never forget my trip to camp in Wyoming and there were four of us from Cornell and Dr Hendriks looked up to the beautiful blue sky and said to the group you better bring your winter gear…many laughed at him however one person in our group said Dr. Hendriks has been coming here for many years so we went back to our cabin and retrieved our coats and gloves and sometime later that day we were hit with a snow storm and we were nice and warm on the walk back to the vehicles and the ride to our cabin.
    May God rest your soul and thank you for all that you have done for us

  25. Kay Chaplin Saelens says:

    Reading the reply from Marlin Steele ’59 encouraged me to send this note. My brother, Jim Chaplin, recently retired after a distinguished career as a Professor of Geology at Morehead University in Kentucky and as a employee of the Oklahoma Geological Survey in Norman, Oklahoma. His love of geology because of Herb Hendriks, continues to this day. Jim has contributed much to the learning of classroom teachers by writing manuals on Earth Science. Personally, he continues to answer my “dumb” travel questions related to geology!

  26. Jim Chaplin says:

    When I enrolled at Cornell College in 1955, my intention was to major in business and return to Onslow, Iowa to assist my father in his farm implement business. I needed a science course so I enrolled in Physical Geology taught by Herb. I was so impressed and motivated by his passion for the earth sciences that I changed my major to geology. One of the highlights of my early career was attending field camp in Dubois WY led by Herb and Wayne Martin from Miami University. Both were truly “giants” in the geological profession. They just don’t make them like that anymore. I will never forget field mapping in Horse Creek Canyon and seeing either Herb or Wayne, or both, sitting on the hillside. Little did I know at the time, they were sitting on geologic contacts.

    The single most important contribution Herb made to my career was his recognition of the importance of field work in solving geologic problems. From his early guidance and inspiration, I have conducted geologic field mapping and teaching from 1961 until my retirement with the Oklahoma Geological Survey in 2012.

    I will truly miss you Herb but will never forget you.

  27. John Pence '59 says:

    I followed a Mt. Vernon friend, Ed White, into a major in geology and will never forget Herb’s first lecture in freshman geology. He described a tranquil scene somewhere in the southwest with handsome homes nestled in amongst huge picturesque boulders at the base of tall majestic cliffs. Then he asked “Do you think those folks ever wondered where those boulders came from?”

    Herb was a good guy with a great sense of humor and an everyday humility that I strongly admired. Although I graduated with a B.S. in Geology, I never really followed the profession. I entered the U.S. Navy and spent the following 7+ years avoiding rocks, then went on to other endeavors. But, to this day, I still thank Herb Hendriks for showing me that a hill or valley or random rock outcrop is more than just a scenic view. Once I learned HOW and WHY it got there, my world was changed forever… and certainly for the better!

  28. Henry Elwood says:

    Herb Henrdiks was my freshman advisor in 1952. He was very helpful in guiding me as to which courses to take in my first and second year at Cornell. I took two years of geology under Herb. Herb was an excellent teacher and counselor. Herb influenced me to go to law school after graduation from Cornell which I did. I have been in law practice over 54 years.

  29. Connie Cousins-Leatherman says:

    Dr. Hendriks had to have felt a great deal of satisfaction in “changing” so many lives with his teachings. I too was never the same after my first few geology classes at Cornell. Herb was my advisor as a freshman in 1973 and his gentle guidance and mentoring has been a standard I’ve tried to emulate ever since.

  30. John J. Delibos says:

    Connie, thank you for mentioning “his gentle guidance and mentoring”. It really hit home.

  31. Diane Rice says:

    I am so sorry to here of Herb’s death. Herb was an excellent teacher and counselor
    to me and so many other students. Herb will truly be miss but will never forgotten by many.