Architect and activist Ron Hendrickson dies at 85

Architect and community activist Ron Hendrickson died at his home in Newport Beach last month after battling esophageal cancer. He was 85.

Hendrickson and his identical twin, Don, were born July 3, 1928, to Harvey and Sophia Hendrickson in Glendale. The twins graduated from the UC Berkeley School of Architecture in 1951.

After graduation, Hendrickson worked in facilities engineering at North American Aviation Co. for two years, and then began his architectural career with Van Dyke Associates, Architects & Engineers in Los Angeles.

He met Novella DuVardo, a UCLA graduate and teacher at Venice High School, and they married in 1955. Ron became a licensed architect and was installed into the American Institute of Architects during a ceremony at the home of renowned architect Paul Williams.

In 1960, Hendrickson designed and built the couple's hillside home in Studio City, where they lived with their children, Scott and Nancy. In 1973, the family moved to Newport Beach, and Hendrickson began his career with the Irvine Co. He rose to the position of senior director of urban planning and design, responsible for the planning and design for all Irvine Co. projects.

During this time, he served as facilitator of the city's Bridge Action Team, where he built consensus on the height of Back Bay Bridge at Coast Highway. The state built the six-lane bridge, which opened in the early 1980s.

Hendrickson also served as president of the Newport Hills Community Assn. He chaired the Architectural Design Review Board. He retired from the Irvine Co. in 1991.

After retirement, he had ample time to devote to his four grandchildren, along with learning Italian, remodeling his home, finishing the tracing of the family genealogy, visiting Italy to find Novella's relatives, and participating in community issues. Hendrickson studied Italian at Orange Coast College, and subsequently helped form Gruppo d' Italiano with fellow students. He studied the language for 21 years and was fluent in the spoken and written word.

Hendrickson was on the building committee for St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, where he helped plan the youth center in 2005. He was also a Sunday school teacher for grades three and four, greeter and usher, and he served on the congregational care committee.

He deeply cared about his community and became involved in many civic affairs. These included leading the successful opposition to the property-taxing Measure A in 1993. In 2008, Hendrickson joined with Bill Ficker, Marion Bergeson and Jack Croul to back the successful Measure B effort to put the Civic Center in its current location on Civic Center Drive near Fashion Island. In the last election, he was a leader in the opposition to Measure EE, which amended the city's charter.

Hendrickson was preceded in death by his father, mother and older brother, Harvey. He is survived by his wife, Novell; son, Scott Hendrickson (Deana); daughter, Nancy Antonoplis (Robert); grandchildren Lisa and David Hendrickson and Alexandra and Melissa Antonoplis; twin brother Don (Jaimee); as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and family.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Think Together, 2100 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, CA. 92705. Donations will benefit Shalimar Learning Center, where Hendrickson tutored elementary school children every Monday afternoon for 13 years.

A celebration of his life will start at 2 p.m. Friday at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 600 St. Andrews Road in Newport Beach.

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