In memoriam: Henry Dekker, former board of visitors rector
June 15, 2011
Henry Dekker (originally, Henry Theodore John Dekker) of Blacksburg, Va., aged 90, former rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, passed away on June 13. He was 90.
Dekker was born in 1920 in Norfolk, Va., to John Peter and Frieda Tiedemann Dekker. The family lived in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He graduated from Oceana High School in 1937, attended the Norfolk Division of William and Mary for one year and then Virginia Tech.
Dekker was a member of the Virginia Tech Class of 1944 but graduated in June 1947 from the Pamplin College of Business with a degree in advanced accounting after three years of military service during World War II in the 11th Airborne Division. Dekker’s military service as on officer took him to the Philippines, Okinawa, and Japan (occupation.)
While at Virginia Tech, Dekker served in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets from September 1940 until March 1943 (Army Service) in the Accelerated Program of Year Round classes. He was elected president of the Class of 1944 for each of three years and was elected president of the corps of cadets in January 1943. He also served as vice-president of the German Club (1942 to 1943) and president in 1946 and 1947. He was elected to Omicron Delta Kappa, the Leadership Society, in 1942 and was active in student government.
Dekker served as the university's treasurer for two years before joining Burlington Industries as assistant treasurer. He moved to New York with Burlington, then Deering Milliken, followed by Hoechst Fibers, Texfi Industries and finally Louis Feraud Inc. as president. His 36 year career gave him considerable international experience in Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, and Japan. He retired as chairman of Louis Feraud in 1992.
Dekker was a longtime member of the Pamplin Advisory Council and a recipient of the Pamplin College of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1990. He had an untiring love of and support of the college, said Pamplin Dean Richard E. Sorensen.
He also was the class ring collection namesake for the Class of 1998.
The Dekkers moved back to Blacksburg in 1980 but he continued to commute to New York for 11 years. Dekker was married to Louisa Kent Otey Hoge Gillet. They had three children, Louisa Kent, Alice Hoge, and Peyton Gillet. They have five grandchildren, Eric Richardson, Alex Richardson, Ashley Dekker, Henry Dekker III, and Peyton Dekker. Tragically, their eldest daughter, Louisa Kent, died on Feb. 27, 2007, and Dekker’s wife of 57 years died on May 3, 2007.
Dekker’s passions were the German Club, the corps of cadets, the Pamplin College of Business, and Virginia Tech. He assisted Charles O. Gordon Sr. ’42 in the Campaign for the Second Century of the German Club. He was one of the leaders of the of the campaign for the revitalization of the corps from 1992 to 2002. He worked with the development director and dean of the Pamplin College of Business in this campaign. He served on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors from 1989 to 1997. He was chair of their Finance and Audit Committee for six years, vice-rector for five years and rector for his last year.
In 1999, Dekker was named the recipient of William Henry Ruffner Medal, the university’s highest honor for dedicated and distinguished service. He was a senior benefactor of the UT Prosim Society, a member of the Legacy Society, and the William Preston Society (former board member).
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that donations to the following are considered: the German Club of Virginia Tech, The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, the Pamplin College of Business, or Virginia Tech in honor of the life and service of Henry Dekker.
A memorial service has been planned for July 14 at the War Memorial Chapel on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus; a reception will follow at the German Club.
The above information was provided, in part, by the Dekker family.