Thursday, 27 June 2013 00:00
Harold “Whitey” Henrickson was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, and mentor. “Whitey” was always an optimist, striving for and meeting his goals and supporting and helping others to reach for their dreams. Deeply in love with his high school sweetheart and wife of 59 years, Pauline Patricia Peluso, his license plate read “PPP” for her and for “Positive People Person.”
A common refrain heard by his son was, “Whitey Henrickson, What a great guy!” He loved people and he loved Manhasset. It was hard to go to a local restaurant without him leaving his table to speak to friends and to strangers.
Born in Bushwick, Brooklyn, he spent his early years in a foster home in Cooperstown, New York. Then, he returned to Queens where he graduated from John Adams High School in Ozone Park. He was a tough, competitive athlete on the court and friends say, “He was all elbows.” Off the court, he was a gentleman. He was good enough to spend time as a player in the Baltimore Orioles organization until he had to get a “real job” to support his family.
In “Whitey’s” desire to improve himself, he went to 13 different colleges from California to New York over 28 years collecting credits toward an undergraduate degree, receiving his B.S. at age 60 from Regents College, SUNY. At 62, he received a Master’s degree from Hofstra University. He then left a job as a salesman at Worth Sporting Goods to work as a Social Studies teacher in some of the toughest schools in Brooklyn and Queens.
His favorite word was “attitude.” He used his positive attitude in leadership school during the Korean War. However, the only action he saw was on the court. Back then, bases liked to boast that their teams were the best, so because “Whitey” was a great all-around athlete he was kept stateside to help his teams win.
He always thought of himself as a marketer or an “idea man.” Using his marketing skills, he founded and was the first president of the Long Island-Metropolitan Lacrosse Chapter. He also founded the soccer and lacrosse programs at the New York Athletic Club and created the Manhasset Lacrosse Day of Champions in 1978. All of these programs are flourishing today. He served on MAAC (the Manhasset Athletic Advisory Committee), which reported to the Board of Education and volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Salvation Army.
Although he never picked up a lacrosse stick, he was inducted into the Manhasset and Long Island Lacrosse Hall of Fames. In the acceptance letter from the Manhasset Hall of Fame, Bill Miller wrote, “Your individual one-on-one encouragement to many young lacrosse players heading to college was in many cases a turning point in their lives.” And, Whitey liked to drop notes of encouragement not just to young athletes, but to all young people. He came from the school of “hard knocks,” and he believed if he could succeed in school, so could they.
“Whitey” had an amazingly strong will to live, and died at home after a long illness. He leaves his wife; his four children, Robert, Christine, Janine, and Justine; his daughter-in-law Cindy Hutton; his son-in-law Luigi Ciotoli; and his four grandchildren, Anna, Berit, Max, and Giancarlo.
In Lieu of flowers, donations can be made to American Legion Manhasset Post# 304, 27 Bayview Ave., Manhasset, NY 11030, or to the Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation at www.limetrolax.org.