Since 1930, inspired by a family friend, Richard G. Hendrickson has served the National Weather Service as an official cooperative weather observer, taking down recordings at his Lumber Lane, Bridgehampton residence twice a day – becoming the East End’s resident weather expert in his 78 years of service.
On Monday, September 29 local government officials and representatives from the National Weather Service joined Hendrickson at the Bridgehampton Historical Society where he was honored with the Earl Stewart Award.
The Earl Stewart Award is a length of service award given by the National Weather Service, named after a cooperative weather observer who completed 75 years of service in Cottage Grove, Oregon in 1992. According to the weather service, just three cooperative observers have served for more than 75 years. The last person to serve more than 75 years was from Nebraska.
And on Monday, it was Hendrickson’s turn to accept the tribute.
Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot, town councilwoman Nancy Graboski — a Bridgehampton resident — councilman Dan Russo, New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, and Sagaponack Village Trustee Lee Foster, joined Dean Gulezian, Director of the Eastern Region Headquarters of the National Weather Service in honoring Hendrickson.
“Richard Hendrickson pretty much has the whole eastern half of the United States,” said Gulezian.
The cooperative weather program is made up of volunteers who track rainfall and temperature daily in their communities, reporting back to the National Weather Service. Hendrickson has served the program from his family farm since 1930. The 96-year old began his work as a weather observer by following in the footsteps of family friend Ernest Clowes.
“It is a thing we do for our country” Hendrickson said on Monday. “And it is still the finest, best country in the world.”
His work has helped catalog the events of the 1938 hurricane, which decimated the East End of Long Island, as well as other historic weather events that have affected the region. “Winds of the Fishes Tail,” a book written by Hendrickson in 1996, is a catalog of his experiences as an observer. Hendrickson’s findings and weather predictions have also been detailed in a weekly column in local newspapers across the South Fork.
On Monday, in addition to the honor bestowed upon him by the National Weather Service, Hendrickson was also showered with proclamations by U.S. Congressman Timothy Bishop, Thiele, and state senator Ken LaValle, as well as Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and supervisor Kabot.
“Richard Hendrickson is a man truly worthy of the day’s honor, and sets an exemplary standard of service and dedication,” said Kabot.Â