Obituary - Olen C. Hendrix

 
 

Former State Senator Olen C. Hendrix of Antoine died Wednesday August 5, 1998.

Mr. Hendrix was born in the Piney community of Pike County on July 12, 1909, to Owen and Katherine Wingfield Hendrix. He married Carmen Cornish on October 29, 1929. He received an 8th grade education and started his own business during the Great Depression. His business ventures included retail sales, lumber and oil production and 40 years of banking. He was a former president of the Bank of Prescott and was serving as chairman of the board of the Bank of Delight at the time of his death.

Guided by Christian principles and work ethics, he never fully retired from service to others. He was a dedicated member of the Antoine Church of Christ, where he served as an elder. He was an avid sportsman and gardener.

In 1952 he was appointed to the Arkansas Highway Commission by Gov. Sid McMath and many roads in southwest Arkansas benefitted from his influence. In 1955 Gov. Orval Faubus appointed him to the State Hospital Board. He was appalled by the overcrowded and primitive facilities for Arkansas' mentally ill and vowed to change those conditions. He won a seat in the Arkansas Senate in 1958 with a goal of sponsoring legislation for improvements. The result was a major rebuilding of the facility and implementation of modern treatment techniques. The State Hospital became a model copied by other states. Hendrix Hall there was named in his honor.

Continuing to serve in the senate until 1982, he was a long time chairman of the Legislative Council and the Joint Budget Committee. He served as president pro tempore of the senate in 1971-72. He chaired the Legislative Council's Committee on Charitable, Penal and Correctional Institutions during the period of 1968-1982 when sweeping improvements to the state's prison system were made.

While in political office, Sen. Hendrix helped establish CARTI, Red River Technical College at Hope and Old Washington State Park. He donated the original Williams Tavern building to the park. A strong and loyal Democrat, he was twice a delegate to the national Democratic Convention.

He served on the board of trustees of Harding University since 1964, where he endowed the Olen Hendrix Nursing and Home Economics Center in 1975. He was conferred with an honorary doctorate of laws by the university in 1989.

More recently, Mr. Hendrix helped fund construction of a new science and computer technology building at Delight Public Schools. The Carmen C. Hendrix building was named in honor of his wife, who was a school teacher in Pike County for many years.

Mr. Hendrix formerly served on the boards of Arkansas Cement Company and the American Foundation Life Insurance Company, as well as numerous local business and civic organizations. He was preceded in death by one son, Rep. Gerald C. Hendrix and one grandson, Scott Baldwin.

Survivors include his wife, Carmen Hendrix, a daughter-in-law, Bobbie Hendrix (widow of Gerald), two sons and daughters-in-laws, James William and Adrienne Hendrix and Darwin and Beth Hendrix all of Antoine, and one daughter and son-in-law, Annette and Dr. Jack Baldwin of Marshall, Texas. Surviving sisters and brothers include Viola Maddox of Antoine, Flossie Childers of Prescott, Harold Hendrix of Hope and Buford Hendrix of Antoine. He had 12 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

Funeral services were Saturday, August 8, at the Antoine Church of Christ. Burial was in Antoine Cemetery under the direction of Brazzel/Cornish Funeral Home of Prescott. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Harding University General Scholarship Fund, Box 12238, Searcy, AR 72149 or CARTI Foundation, Box 55011, Little Rock, AR 72215.


 

This story was published in Nevada County Picayune on August 12, 1998.