March 7, 2012 – During his 45-plus year legal career, John H. Hendricks would freely lend an ear to colleagues, always ready to tackle a legal issue and find a resolution. He set the example for pro bono and volunteerism by example. His commitment to education and preserving history in Superior, Wis., has created scholarship programs and built museums. Hendricks will receive the Senior Lawyers Division Leonard Loeb Award, which acknowledges the work of a senior lawyer whose outstanding leadership has advanced the fundamental goals of the legal system. The award will be presented in Wisconsin Dells during the State Bar Annual Meeting on June 13.
Hendricks “semi-retired” a few years ago and is of counsel with Knudson, Torvinen, Jones & Kirk S.C. He joined the firm in 1967 when he graduated from U.W. Law School. Hendricks’ professional emphasis today is in alternative dispute resolution, mediations and arbitrations, and elder and business law. He also serves on boards for several nonprofit community organizations and continues to mentor young lawyers and ensure education remains a top priority in Superior.
Firm partner Kyle Torvinen, recalled Hendricks’ nudging to accept appellate cases for individuals through the Public Defender’s Office, especially cases that seemed to be hopeless. Hendricks encouraged firm members to represent those who had been wronged, even when cases were less than desirable and less than profitable.
“Hendricks would remind his younger colleagues that [firm] clients are often nervous and scared, and it is important to answer all their questions and make them feel comfortable,” said Torvinen.
Firm associate Johanna Kirk said, “John’s office is like a magical tool box. I enter not even knowing what I need, but leave with options, plans, strategies, and solutions. And tomorrow, I know that his toolbox will be just a full, and he will generously share.”
Respect opposing counsel
Douglas County Circuit Court Reserve Judge Michael T. Lucci first met Hendricks as opposing counsel. “John was always very professional and respectful, especially with his fellow lawyers,” said Lucci. “He was eager to help and was able to teach and inspire others as a role model just through his personal character and manner.
“I have had the pleasure of and honor of watching him in the courtroom on a fairly regular basis,” said Lucci. “He was and remains one of the best trial lawyers I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my 24 years as a judge.”
Set example to ‘get involved’
Hendricks served in all Douglas County Bar Association officer positions and still regularly attends meeting. He served a term on the State Bar of Wisconsin Board of Governors and many years on the Office of Lawyer Regulation’s Investigative Committee for District 11.
Early in his career, Hendricks had an integral role in setting up two nonprofit museums. The S.S. Meteor Maritime Museum, the last remaining historic whaleback ship of the Great Lakes, is a community fixture today. Hendricks also facilitated establishing The Fire and Police Museum. He received multiple awards for these efforts and over the years served on both museum boards.
“Our community has continued to reap the benefits of his considerable talents and generosity as a caring and involved citizen,” said former director of both museums Nick Baker.
Commitment to education and community
“John has always believed education to be a critical part of our society,” said Torvinen. He is still on the School District of Superior, Board of Education, and he serves two scholarship foundations.
While in a leadership position, the Superior Elks Lodge 403 created a program that ensures every third grade school child receives a dictionary. He also was an active member of Superior Jaycees and the Optimist Club, an advisor for Junior Achievement, and a leader in the Boy Scouts of America.
His community service includes Catholic Charities, Lakes Maritime Society Limited, City of Superior Business Improvement District, School District of Superior, School District of Superior Scholarship Foundation, Cooper School Site Council, Central Learning Partnership, Superior High School Parents Advisory Committee, Board of Directors of the Superior M & I Bank, U.S. Snowmobile Association, Human Development Center, Hammond Avenue Presbyterian Church, and Our Savior Lutheran Church.