Leon and Ruhama Hendrickson
Leon E. Hendrickson - 1926 - 2017
"Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold." - Leon E. Hendrickson
Leon E. Hendrickson, who built a numismatic powerhouse from a cigar box of old coins, died July 23 at the Summers Pointe Senior Living in Winchester, IN. He was 90 Hendrickson was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 64 years, Ruhama (Hamie), who died in 2010 at age 83. Together they built SilverTowne in Winchester, IN, into a nationally known dealer in rare coins and precious metals.
The Hendricksons, who operated The Rainbow Restaurant in downtown Winchester in the years after Leon returned home from World War II, became interested in coins after a family member used his coin collection to secure a loan.
Writing in the Winter 2016-17 issued of The Centinel, CSNS Convention Chairman Kevin Foley chronicled the rise of the company. "With their interest in coins kindled by the collection that they held to secure a family loan, Leon and his wife began their professional numismatic involvement in a small way with a modest coin display near the cash register of their restaurant. They sometimes made sales of interesting coins that were displayed in a cigar box on the counter. The coin business soon began to overshadow operation of the restaurant and Leon opened a separate coin shop above the restaurant."
His obituary noted, "His hobby soon became a full-time profession." He moved the Winchester Coin Shop into the basement of his home and began doing business at some of the largest coin shows in the country. The Winchester Coin Shop soon became known as SilverTowne as the business expanded into not only rare coins but also silver and gold bullions coins and bars
"Of course Leon’s SilverTowne soon became too large for his basement. It now operates out of the beautiful 2 story building that he built next to his home and employs over 100 people."
Hendrickson was born on Oct. 5, 1926, in Union City, IN, the son of Charlesand Mary Hendrickson. He graduated from McKinley High School in 1944 and joined the Navy at 17 to fight in World War II aboard the USS Caldwell in the South Pacific. On his first leave, he married Ruhama and quickly rejoined his ship to finish out the war.
In a tribute on the company's website, SilverTowne notes, "He was a nationally recognized numismatist with more than 22 accomplishments and awards. Leon was also an active member of more than 30 numismatic organizations and a former president of the Professional Numismatists Guild, Central States Numismatic Society and Indiana State Numismatic Association." Survivors include his son David Hendrickson (wife, Debbie), daughters, Kathy Barker (husband, Steve) and Tanda Abel (husband, Tony), nine grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.
A celebration of his life was held July 28 at the Winchester Towne Square Community Centre.
CSNS Gov. Ray Lockwood and his wife Fran attended the funeral. He noted, "We have lost a friend, a fellow numismatist, an icon in our hobby and a hobby activist who gave meaning to words like decency, respect, compassion, loyalty and generosity.
We will miss Leon and never, ever forget him. A great man has left the physical world but not the spiritual one."
Steve Bieda, CSNS legal counsel, said, "Leon Hendrickson brought a unique perspective to the hobby, and as a result, SilverTowne has become an integral part of many local and regional numismatic organizations, such as CSNS, where the company has minted its annual show medal for many years. Not too many people can have such an enduring legacy."
Several coin dealers posted on the Walker Funeral Home website. Julian Leidman wrote, "Leon was a mentor and inspiration to hundreds, if not thousands of coin dealers. He was beyond reproach and conducted all of his transactions with the highest integrity and service that was possible. His tens of thousands of customers are all saddened by his passing. He was a giant in all aspects of his life."
Eddie Lowy of Banner Coin Exchange visited Leon a few days before his death. He recalled, "It was a quiet visit, but he said 'Hi, Doc' ... I said my personal words to him, thanking him for being my teacher, my friend, my mentor. I held his hand, kissed him on the forehead....and quietly left to travel back to Pittsburgh. Thank you Lonnie for what you did for me, your family, and everyone who was lucky enough to touch and be in your life. May you rest in peace."
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Leon and Ruhama Hendrickson and Family Scholarship Fund, 213 S. Main St., Winchester, IN 47394 or Hendrickson Trust Fund for Local Out Reach, 1212 E. 100 S., Winchester, IN 47394.
The Centinel | Fall 2017