Teacher Dies After Bike Accident

Times Staff Writer

A Fullerton College art professor suffered fatal head injuries when he was struck by a car as he rode his bicycle to work early Wednesday, authorities said.

Don Hendricks, 41, an artist who had taught at the college since 1975 and served for 3 years as Brea’s artist in residence, was hit at 6:51 a.m. a few blocks from the campus, police said.

Hendricks was pronounced dead Wednesday evening at UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he had been on life support systems, a spokesman for the coroner’s office said.


Fullerton Police Officer Laura Rivera said that Hendricks was riding north on Lemon Street when he was hit by a car going east on Chapman Avenue. The driver, a 21-year-old Buena Park man, was not arrested or cited, but the accident was still under investigation, Rivera said, and police are seeking more witnesses.

Hendricks suffered severe head injuries, a broken left collarbone and a broken right leg, Rivera said.

Students and colleagues on Wednesday described Hendricks as a popular teacher and an outdoorsman who surfed with his children, swam laps in the Fullerton College pool and rode his bike to work every day.

Kate Johnson, an art instructor who attended Orange High School with Hendricks in the late 1960s and shared an office with him at the college, said he had a tremendous following among art students.

“A lot of people came here just to take him,” Johnson said. “He was a real strong family man. He always had time to talk.”

Hendricks and his wife had been married for 21 years and had four children; Scott, an art student at Cal State Fullerton; Christina, a student at Brigham Young University in Utah; Tim, 12, and Courtney, 9.


Kelly Wine, an art student who had taken several courses under Hendricks, said that he regularly showed Hendricks his latest artwork and was particularly proud to have some of his works on display with Hendricks’ paintings at recent art shows.

“He could see things in students as artists and he would guide them and encourage them,” Wine said. “His opinion of my artwork was very valuable. I was going to show him one of my new works when I heard” of the accident, he added.

Hendricks specialized in watercolors and he often focused on landscapes around Orange County, his colleagues said. They added that Hendricks loved to paint outdoors, rather than from photographs.

“He was a very prolific young painter,” said Larry Friedrich, chairman of Fullerton College’s art department. “He was a very competent, capable artist, and a very good instructor.”

Hendricks’ works were displayed in art shows across the nation and in Switzerland, a Fullerton College spokesman said. He had a number of exhibits in Orange County galleries in the past few years and one local gallery, Art Angles in Orange, was preparing an art show with Hendricks’ works that was to open Feb. 23.

‘Great Stature’

Mel Schusterman, owner of the gallery that was to display more than 30 of Hendricks’ paintings, said he had “great stature” in the Southern California cultural community and was widely respected by his peers.


“He was an exceptional example of an artist turning away from Modernism to portray natural things,” Schusterman said, adding that the show has been postponed but that the gallery may hold a memorial exhibit soon.

Hendricks, a lifelong Orange County resident who was raised in the Silverado Canyon area, was graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in art. He received his master of arts degree in 1972.

He has taught at Cal State Fullerton, Santa Ana College (now Rancho Santiago College), the Hollywood Arts School and Park View School in Huntington Beach, a Fullerton College spokesman said.

Hendricks received the California Arts Council’s artist-in-residence grants for 3 consecutive years beginning in 1981 and served as the city of Brea’s artist in residence during that time.

Gave Free Demonstrations

Kathie Conrey of the Brea community services department said that Hendricks held free demonstrations of watercolor painting at the city’s Civic Cultural Center and at local schools. He often worked with children on exhibits and received “stacks” of letters from youngsters thanking him, she added.

“He had a wonderful gift of communication and a wonderful sense of humor,” Conrey said.

Friends said that Hendricks was active in the Mormon Church and planned to spend the 1989-1990 school year teaching at Brigham Young University. Johnson, his colleague, said that he may have wanted to teach there permanently.


About four or five of Hendricks friends from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fullerton gathered in the waiting room Wednesday morning to wait for reports on his condition.

His wife, Terry, was busy making phone calls and trying to reach their daughter Christina.

“He was just a good friend of mine,” said Michael Lowe, a 20-year friend of Hendricks. “He was just one of those special people who did those things well. I guess he just loved the grace in life, the pretty things.”

Fullerton police ask that any witnesses to the accident contact investigator Tak Kim at (714) 738-6813.

Times staff writer Lucille Renwick contributed to this story.