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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Death of G. A. Hendricks

In the death of Gustave A. Hendricks last Thursday Grand Rapids lost one of its most forceful and progressive citizens. Gus Hendricks, all his lifetime, was doer of deeds. He was of the super-salesman type who could sell himself and his project to almost anybody. He had the happy faculty of rousing enthusiasm for a project by this word pictures of what it would be like and what it would mean. He was an enthusiast for anything he undertook and he spread his enthusiasm wherever he happened to be.

Gus Hendricks with a most humble start made himself something of a fortune with his Adjustable Table Company, following that up with the manufacture of steel cabinets. His business was always successful. He was a far seeing manufacturer and he knew how to sell what he built.

One of Mr. Hendricks’ outstanding contributions to the welfare of Grand Rapids was his building of the Pantlind Furniture Exhibition building and the Fine Arts building. Here again he showed how far seeing he was. He conceived the idea that exhibition buildings located near the Pantlind hotel, which was the furniture man’s headquarters when in the market, would be drawing cards. He took the old Nelson-Matter building and remodeled it in most up-to-date fashion to make it into a most popular furniture exhibition building. His space was all sold out before the plans were completed. Then he took another old structure and rebuilt it into the Fine Arts building. Once more it was unusual and beautiful and once more the space was sold before the first brick was torn from the old structure.

The opening of these two buildings, the finest in the city, and the much publicized proposed third one came at a time when others were seeking to snatch away the Grand Rapids market. Those buildings probably had more to do with revivifying the Grand Rapids market than any other single thing. It showed to the world that Grand Rapids had not lost faith in herself as a market, that we were prepared to go forward and compete with any city which sought to rob us of our birthright. Gus Hendricks perhaps did more toward preserving the market here than any other half-dozen factors.

Gus Hendricks was that way about everything he did. He was one not afraid to gamble with his dollars for a good purpose. He was one who had the push and energy to do things. He did many things for Grand Rapids and being an ardent conservationist he did many things to maintain the beauties of the woods and the streams where he had his “Castle” up in Lake County. And more than all things else, Gus Hendricks was a mighty fine fellow who made many friends, who was loyal to his friends, and who always tried to be helpful to those who played on the square with him. Grand Rapids has lost a great asset in the death of Gus Hendricks. We need here his kind of vision and his energy to make his visions become realities.

Grand Rapids Herald, March 29, 1936

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