Natchitoches, LA (KMSS) — An anonymous donor made a significant contribution to the Northwestern State University Foundation in memory of Lucile Hendrick, a long-time administrator who was active in many campus and civic organizations during her long career. The donation will enhance outreach efforts coordinated through the NSU Foundation, including offering scholarship opportunities to students, said Dr. Chris Maggio, Northwestern State’s assistant vice president of external affairs for university advancement.
“We are so appreciative of the generosity of the individual who chose to honor the memory of a lady who did so much for our university and the community with this tremendous gift,” Maggio said. “Mrs. Lucile was a champion and advocate for the underdog students. I think she would be pleased by the NSU Foundation’s efforts to assist students trying to better themselves by pursuing a higher education degree.”
Hendrick, often called “Miss Cissy,” was born in 1909 in Texas and moved to Shreveport at an early age. She was in the first graduating class at C.E. Byrd High School, earning her diploma with honors. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English, French and History at Louisiana State Normal, as Northwestern State was then known, in 1929 and earned her Master of Education in Personnel, Guidance and Administration at Northwestern State College in 1958. As a student at Normal, she was a charter member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and remained active in the sorority until her death.
In her early career, Hendrick taught for 15 years at Vivian, North Caddo and C.E. Byrd high schools. She was named dean of women at Northwestern State in 1963 having served as assistant dean since 1959. She retired from the position in 1974. She held offices in several professional organizations related to guidance and personnel and was sponsor to several women’s organizations on campus, including Purple Jackets, Associated Women Students and the Panhellenic Council.
As an administrator, she was named Outstanding Dean of Women for Louisiana and was inducted into the C.E. Byrd High School Hall of Fame. She was inducted into Northwestern State’s Alumni Hall of Distinction, the Long Purple Line, in 1998 and the NSU College of Education’s Hall of Distinguished Educators in 2001. Among many honors, she received an honorary Nth Degree at Northwestern State, and was awarded citations from several Northwestern State student organizations, including the Student Government Association, Purple Jackets and Panhellenic, who created the Lucile Mertz Hendrick Panhellenic Foundation Scholarship in her honor. Tri Sigma Sorority created the Lucile Mertz Hendrick Outstanding Alumna Award in her honor.
“Mrs. Lucile was named a Tri Sigma Centennial Woman of Distinction by our national organization in 1998, which recognized the top 100 Tri Sigmas,” said Reatha Cox, director offirst year experience and leadership development. “She was forever giving to others. Although NSU no longer has a Dean of Women, she was a huge role model and mentor to me both as a Tri Sigma and as a student affairs professional. She was a very graceful woman and with her, every moment was a learning moment.”
Hendrick volunteered many hours in the community as a preservationist, philanthropist and member of several preservation and genealogy groups. She taught adult Sunday school at First United Methodist Church for 43 years and was a featured speaker on the Civil War and the American Revolution for numerous civic organizations.
Hendrick was named Outstanding Tour Guide of Louisiana and Outstanding Women of the Year for the city of Natchitoches. She was given a key to the city of Natchitoches and received the Mayor’s Award for Service and the You Make a Difference Award from the Natchitoches Parish sheriff. She was also recognized by the V.A. Medical Center in Alexandria for her donation of 100 handmade quilts for patients.
She died Jan. 11, 2003, in Natchitoches at age 94. At her request, her cremated remains were spread at the base of the columns on the Northwestern State campus.
“She was a combination of intelligence, style, grace, enthusiasm and generosity,” said Louie Bernard, a family friend. “How many people did you know like Lucile Hendrick? What a wonderful character she was. Nobody in our community committed more random acts of kindness. It gave meaning and purpose to her life. She was the embodiment of a person whose joy in life was in giving to others and never expecting anything in return. ”
Bernard said that although the Hendricks had no children, “Miss Lucile had a thousand children and nurtured them all of her life, from Byrd High School to Louisiana State Normal College to Northwestern State to Tri Sigma to the Sunday school class that was named for her. We were all her children.”