April 30, 1949 – January 6, 2020
Thomas S. Hendricks passed away on Monday, January 6, 2020, during the early morning hours, in the loving warmth of his home in Caribou, CO. Miner Tom was born on April 30, 1949, and grew up in Colorado Springs, going on camping trips with his family all over Colorado to places like Cripple Creek and Ouray, where he would pick up rocks looking for gold at the tender age of four.
Once in high school, he began working for Golden Cycle Corp in Cripple Creek’s famous Ajax Mine as well as for his father’s limestone operation. While attending the University of Colorado in Boulder, Tom worked in seven different mines, and started the Caribou Mining District while finishing his senior year at just 21 years old, making him the president, CEO, and general manager of the Hendricks Mining Company.
He had already started working the Comstock Mine putting a shaft down for a friend in Boulder. He moved an old cabin from there to Caribou and set up camp where he has been working and living ever since. Tom’s hard work and enthusiasm brought him honors and achievements in the mining industry and the community at large.
By 1980, he had 55 employees after starting by himself. His dedication to best practices won him a dizzying list of accolades and awards over the years. Starting with being inducted as a Honorary member of Women in Mining on November 13, 1985, for his contributions to Mining and Operation Respect Program, then on March 24, 1988, he was honored with a Certificate of Accomplishment and Award from Governor Roy Romer, State of Colorado and the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety for designing and building a mine water and treatment system for the Cross Gold Mine at Caribou. In 1988, he received the Golden Nugget Award for Public Service and assisting the Town of Nederland in numerous ways.
On May 1, 1988, Tom was the recipient of the MB Duke Rudman Award for outstanding “Work for Humanity” associated with a dangerous five-hour underground mine rescue. He was hanging from climbing ropes and saved the life of a trapped person 1,200 feet underground. He was then honored with the St. Barbara’s Award for Recognition of Outstanding contributions to Colorado mining, given by the American Bar Association, the Colorado Bar Association, and the Colorado Mining Association in 1991. In 1994, he was given an Award of Appreciation “to Thomas S. Hendricks for Outstanding Support and Education Promotion of the Mining Industry. Let it Be Known that You Have Consistently Over the Years Generously Given Time and Effort, Money and Self to the Community on All Levels, With Great Respect and Admiration, Thank You, The Local Miners, Veterans, School Children and BCMMA Members.”
The Town of Nederland awarded him with a Golden Nugget Award, and passed Resolution 96-1011 honoring Thomas S. Hendricks for assisting the Town in the vein of public service and for assisting the Town in numerous ways, setting aside July 27, and 28, 1996, as Tom Hendricks Days in the Town. He was also inducted into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame on April 18, 1996, for enduring contributions through his endeavors to the vitality of Boulder County. In 1997, he was awarded the Pride of Boulder County Certificate from the Boulder County Commissioners.
A few years later he was honored with the 2000 Golden Burro Award for Efforts in Furthering the Cause of Mining in the professional and political arena from Clear Creek County Metal Mining Association; the Historic Boulder 2000 Award of Merit for continuous operation of the Cross Gold Mine, an Honor Award for Community Contributions in December of 2003 through January 2004 from the Nederland Chamber of Commerce.
Tom even ventured into acting for which he was honored with an Award and Recognition for Significant Support and Participation in the Movie “Common Ground – Modern Mining and You,” Caterpillar Co. and National Public Television. Last but not least, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award on July 26, 2008, presented by the Nederland Area Historical Society in Appreciation for tireless dedication in reclaiming and preserving our mining heritage.
It was never only been about mining for Tom, as he had always been a very active member in the community and was an avid hockey player. The Caribou Wind, a traveling competitive hockey team from Nederland, was born out of a locker room conversation in the 1990s. Tom and other team members built the boards up at the mine and attempted a rink at the Guercio Ball Field with limited success.
All of his awards are merely an illustration that Tom Hendricks spent a lifetime dedicated to living true to his spirit, as well as loving his family, friends and community deeply. He participated in celebrations as well as emergency events, next to his neighbors and friends, helping out whenever and where ever he could and often at personal expense.
Tom spoke of caring for and appreciating his crew very much. He loved training people to be miners. He was a person who touched many people’s lives with his gentle strength and passion for life that lingers on indefinitely.
His niece, Heather Hendricks, shared, “I’m still processing that my Uncle Tom has passed unto the next, out of this human realm into the gold mine in the sky. Tom was my freaking hero. He had the most curious trait of unwavering positivity, along with a contagious smile that made everyone feel important and loved. He was a father to me in many ways, and now he and my dad – his brother Herb – are prospecting together up there, looking down and spreading light. His lifelong work at the Cross and Caribou Mine inspired many and left an indelible mark. The fire within burns bright with ambition to pursue his goals, and overcome any adversity in securing his legacy.”
Tom’s nephew Tommy Hendricks commented: “My Uncle Tom inspired me in many ways and helped shape the person I am and hope to become. He personified masculinity. He was the rock of our family and giver of great bear hugs.”
His sister-in-law Peggy Hendricks said: “My brother-in-law was described by his mom as ‘a prince.’ In my estimation, that doesn’t cover the stellar qualities he possessed. Beloved by all in our small family and beyond, his memory and legacy will long live on.”
Maggi Hendricks, his daughter, said: “My father was a warm smile on a cold day, a rugged pair of hands that would lift sorrows and wipe away tears. He carried himself like a humble grizzly with the childlike curiosity of a wolf pup. His heart was so open it could engulf the entire ocean and then some. We thank you for existing and sharing love with all those you encountered.”
Tom Hendricks spent most of his life sitting on top of a mountain, digging in the dirt, playing in a giant sand box, looking for treasures and pursuing his childhood dreams and passions. He invested his time, energy and focus in his family and the people he loved, the community he believed in for which he cared deeply and spreading the magic and mystery of mining to all who would listen.
His beloved wife Serah said, “Tom; my husband, my life, my love, my friend, being with you each day was a blessing. Your warm and fun nature brought absolute joy into everything we experienced together, and having our son was every dream I’d ever imagined.”
Tom was preceded in death by his brother, Herb Hendricks, and is survived by his devoted wife Serah and their 4-year-old son Thomas; daughter Maggi Hendricks of Tucson, AZ; sister-in-law Peggy, nieces Jessica and Heather, and nephew Tommy.
The family has set up a GoFundMe in his name to honor his legacy and for support for Serah and Thomas that can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/tom-hendricks-legacy-fund.
Tom Hendricks’ celebration of life will be held Saturday, January 18, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Nederland Community Center. This will be a potluck event and people are encouraged to bring food and refreshments. There will also be time for people to present stories and memories of Tom, and folks are encouraged to bring pictures.
Courtesy of The Mountain-Ear and Monica LaSalle.