Papa Joe Hendrick Passes

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Joseph R. Hendrick Jr., father of Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and company president John Hendrick, passed away Wednesday evening at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. He was 84.

Fondly referred to as "Papa Joe," Hendrick began his auto-racing career in the early 1960s with longtime friend Frank Edwards, winning races throughout the state of Virginia at tracks like South Boston, Martinsville and Richmond.

Over the years, Papa Joe Hendrick became a fixture at Hendrick Motorsports, most recently co-owning the No. 25 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team and the No. 5 NASCAR Busch Series team with grandson Ricky Hendrick, while spearheading the organization's show-car operation.

A decorated veteran, Papa Joe proudly served his country in World War II as a flight engineer and gunner in the Air Force.

In June, Gov. Mike Easley presented Papa Joe and his wife, Mary, with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine -- the state of North Carolina's highest honor bestowed on a citizen for dedication and extended length of service to his or her organization.

Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday and will be immediately followed by a 1 p.m. memorial service at the Central Church of God, 5301 Sardis Rd., Charlotte, NC 28270.

For friends and family in Virginia, a Sunday graveside service will be held at Union Chapel Methodist Church in Palmer Springs at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Nazareth Children's Home, P.O. Box 1438, Rockwell, NC 28138, or the Papa Joe Hendrick Fund, care of the Hendrick Marrow Program, 4400 Papa Joe Hendrick Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28262.

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