Harold "Whitey" Henrickson's license plate reads "PPP."
The letters stood not only for the initials of his wife of 59 years, but also for his description of himself as a "positive people person." Whether it was through the local lacrosse programs he started or his encouraging notes to students, he worked to live out this title.
Henrickson died June 16 of Parkinson's disease in his Manhasset home. He was 80.
"He was someone you looked up to," said his son, Robert Henrickson, of Manhasset. "He loved people, he loved Manhasset."
Born in Brooklyn, Henrickson spent his early life in a foster home before completing high school in Queens.
After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War at a base in New Mexico, Henrickson played baseball for a minor league team of the Baltimore Orioles for about a year, until his son was born.
His involvement with Long Island started in 1967 when he moved to Manhasset and became a salesman for Worth Sporting Goods.
In 1978, he created the Manhasset Lacrosse Day of Champions, a fundraiser for Manhasset athletics. Henrickson also founded the Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation, the area chapter of US Lacrosse, and started lacrosse and soccer programs for the New York Athletic Club.
"My father was the kind of person where if there was a need for something, he thought it made sense to make it happen," his son said.
In 1992, Henrickson was inducted into the Long Island Lacrosse Hall of Fame "without ever picking up a lacrosse stick on the field," his son said. He is also a member of the Manhasset Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
At age 60, after taking classes at 13 colleges since the 1950s, Henrickson received a bachelor's degree in marketing from Regents College, now named Excelsior College. Two years later, he received a master's in business from Hofstra University and then became a high school social studies teacher at schools in Queens and Brooklyn.
He made it a point to encourage kids in the community, sending notes to students, some of whom he didn't know but had heard about from friends in the community.
"As adults, they would come up to me and say, 'Your dad sent me a note to inspire me to pursue an education,' or 'Your dad was great and encouraged me,' " his son said.
In addition to his son, Robert, Henrickson is survived by his wife, the former Pauline Patricia Peluso; three daughters, Christine Henrickson and Justine Ciotoli, both of Manhasset, and Janine Henrickson, of Manhattan; and four grandchildren.
A memorial service was held June 20 at St. Mary's Church in Manhasset.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his memory to the American Legion, Manhasset Post 304, 27 Bayview Ave., Manhasset, NY 11030 or the Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation at limetrolax.org.