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One Man’s Life: Henry Dellicker

by Yvette Cain
April 26, 2019

Henry Dellicker sat in our front room on a damp afternoon, sharing a reverie of his few years before life in Holliston, of his life in and service to Holliston, and of his hopes for the future.  We had heard his name frequently mentioned around town; we had heard of his part in Holliston’s government; we had heard of his lively nature, so we happily sat with him, immersed in memories of the visiting gent.

Dellicker began creating a vignette of himself as a 15-year old polio patient in a hospital room with a similarly afflicted Harvard Medical student, both pushing one another to move.  The HU student told him, “I don’t want to be a doctor in a wheelchair.”  And so the young men pushed to move their toes, their legs, more and more each day.  Eventually, they both walked out of the hospital on crutches.  “ If I want to do it, I can,” said Dellicker.  This mantra seems to have worked for him.

An early interest in electronics and radio led Dellicker to library books and his purchase of cheap surplus equipment.  His short stint at Purdue proved that he had a more advanced knowledge than  his coursework provided.  A Navy ROTC instructor advised him that if he enlisted, he’d have a guarantee: he’d be happy.  Navy travel brought him to Korea and the Far East, where he continued his electronics work. 

He was in this area during the testing of the first Hydrogen bomb in the Bikini Atoll area.  “The colors in the stem of the cloud were like nothing I’ve ever seen!  It was so beautiful.”  He continued, “It was the largest above ground explosion in the US—and I was only 20!”  It wasn’t until he received a Colliers magazine from his parents that he became aware of the contamination the explosion carried. 

Dellicker’s Navy service provided him with travel aboard great ships, as well as great electronics experience.  Discovering where and at what times there was activity of both Japanese fishing boats and Russian submarines was another early task for Dellicker.  He traveled throughout the Far East: China, Indo-China, Viet Nam, detecting new equipment these countries were using that they had obtained from Russia.  The Essex was his next ship, which wandered into a storm with its aircraft in the air.  He was very proud of the fact that all of the aircraft were guided back to the ship.

Once out of the Navy, Dellicker was never at a loss for work or excitement.  In Boston labs, he and a friend worked on digitizing 6 analog types of telemetry, specifically a new memory for data and high-speed voice recorders.  When the Russians launched Sputnik, it was GE that recorded them. 

Henry and Jackie Dellicker married in 1955, just before his Navy term ended in ’56.  They moved to Holliston in 1958 after falling in love with the town.  They have lived in their present home since that date.  In fact, Dellicker tells the story of the first visit:  Jackie began crying in the car, parked in the driveway.  She told him she had dreamed about this house, and couldn’t believe it was there in front of her eyes.  “Of course, we bought it!”  Three of their five sons were born after they moved here.  He was in Huntsville, Alabama at the Army missile center to help with the installation of instrumentation.  A 2-week job became a 6- month position, and this was just as he and his wife had moved to Holliston. 

His career spanned over 50 years of designing electronics systems.  Once during a trip to Spain, Heathrow Airport experienced an air carrier strike, necessitating Dellicker’s trip on a Concorde.  He wrote a quick note to the captain that a steward delivered, and soon after Dellicker was escorted to the jumpseat in the Captain’s cabin.  The note had read, “I flew this aircraft before you!”  When they met, Dellicker explained that he had designed the simulator for the plane before it was built, and this simulator had trained his Captain.

As a consultant to Gamewell Fire Alarm Company, Dellicker worked on a new mechanical and electrical system that was cheaper to operate and could be networked to a central operating system.  “Sales boomed!” He smiled.  Soon after, Honeywell made an offer and bought Gamewell.  That was in 2005. 

Despite his work schedule and travels, Dellicker found “spare time” to devote to Holliston.  His volunteerism seems to have begun with Boy Scout Troop 74, with a Board position.  He found the town to be friendly, and “the townies were friendly and helpful.”  He loved eventually being a Scoutmaster, and eventually became a member of the Planning Board.  

The “Queens” development was begun while Dellicker was on the Planning Board. 

Work collided with his volunteerism frequently.  One such time, when Henry Holbrook was the Police Chief (1966), Holbrook complained of the 12 volt batteries required to operate a 'portable' radio.  Dellicker redesigned the container to hold D batteries, a much lighter option.  Delllicker was also on the Planning Board when it was determined that the Holliston Police Department needed room other than in the back of the town hall. 

The cupola from the 'old' police station is moved away to be sold.

He chaired the Building Committee, which was able to buy some land being sold by the Boston Archdiocese.  An architect who had graduated from Holliston High School designed the Police building, completed in 1969.

In 1972, Dellicker ran for the Board of Selectmen.  This was at a time when all three Selectmen were elected at once.  He served in this position for 2 terms.  In 1969-72, he chaired the building committee for the middle school.  He was a selectman for both the 250 anniversary of Holliston and yet again for the 275 anniversary celebration.  In between times, he served on the Water Commission.  He again served on the Planning Board. 

The Council on Aging added Dellicker to its ranks, where he remained for 8 years. He is presently ending his place on the Zoning Board of Appeals, where he has served for 16 years. 

“ I’ve had a wonderful life…I’ve done everything I wanted to do…But I’d do anything for Holliston.”  Apparently so, as Dellicker’s presently got his sights set on yet another volunteer venture:  he’d love to be appointed to the Pine Crest Clubhouse Committee.   “We [he and his wife Jackie] are their best customers!  We’re there most Tuesdays with our friends the Stickneys.” 

 

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Comments (10)

If it wasn't for Jackie and Henry moving to Holliston in 1958, I would have never met my wife Anne and therefore my son would not have been born.

Their oldest son, Lee was my college friend and introduced me to Holliston in the 70's. lee went on to be my best man twice. I throughly enjoyed reading this story, particularly about his aviation skills and the Concord simulator story. My first flight in a small plane was when their son Scott took me up in their private airplane Henry and family had built. I remember I had to drive Scot to the airport because he was not old enough to have his drivers license, but proved to be an excellent pilot at 14 or 15. Not sure what I was thinking, but eventually inspired me to obtain my own pilots license.

A nice tribute to a great man and a great family! My son owes you his life, literally!

- Gary Zegel | 4/30/19 12:57 AM

I've spent many an hour talking with Henry. He is one of the nicest, intelligent, and interesting men I have ever met.

- Jim Ward | 4/28/19 10:26 PM

Henry - Your an inspirational problem solver with years

Of wisdom !! We're all fortunate you share your knowledge

And experiences with us. Mark Ahronian

- Mark Ahronian | 4/28/19 1:42 PM

In 1966, my little family moved in next door to the Dellickers. I credit Henry with being my role model for volunteerism in Holliston. Thank you, Henry (and Jackie) for sharing your love of Holliston with me!

- Mary Greendale | 4/27/19 9:25 PM

Thank you for sharing his story- a true Holliston gem!!

- Stacey Raffi | 4/27/19 3:12 AM

Henry Dellicker for President.

- Paul Saulnier | 4/26/19 10:40 PM

Great article about a super-impressive gentleman. Thanks for taking the time to publish this.

- Ken Robinson | 4/26/19 4:16 PM

Wonderful verbiage pertaining a great person. Henry has always been firm, fair & honest. Holliston has been blessed!

- Dave Dubin | 4/26/19 2:40 PM

Bravo- Great article and great man!

- Shaw Lively | 4/26/19 11:37 AM

Simply put, a wonderful article about a true gentleman.

- Steve Bradford | 4/26/19 11:24 AM

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