Richard “Dick” Barry Hellstrom ’58, 75, died Nov. 21, 2011, in Fort Pierce, Fla. Although Hellstrom was born in Jacksonville, he lived his entire life in St. Lucie County.
He attended Davidson and then University of Florida, graduating with his bachelor of civil engineering in 1960, becoming a diehard Gator fan. Hellstrom was infamous for his many witticisms, among them, “work smarter, not harder,” but he was no stranger to hard work.
A registered professional engineer since 1964 (no. 8230 and proud of his low number!), early in his career Hellstrom worked as resident engineer for the Peace River Valley Water Conservation and Drainage District in Bartow, as administrative assistant to Florida Secretary of State Tom Adams in Tallahassee, staff director for the Florida Senate Committee on Natural Resources, and staff director for the Florida House Select Committee on Water Resources.
In 1968, he began his private engineering career as principal and vice president of Beindorf and Associates, Consulting Engineers in Vero Beach and Fort Pierce, and then began his own engineering firm, Hellstrom & Associates, in 1973.
In 1981, Hellstrom merged with another Treasure Coast firm to form Lindahl, Browning, Ferrari & Hellstrom, where he was president and CEO until his retirement in 2000.
Honored by his peers, Hellstrom was selected “Young Engineer of the Year” for the state by the Florida Engineering Society in 1965, “Engineer of the Year” for Florida Engineering Society, Treasure Coast Chapter, and served as a member of those organizations, as well as the American Society of Civil Engineers, National Society of Professional Engineers, and Florida Institute of Consulting Engineers.
Committed to the community, Hellstrom served as president of Fort Pierce Rotary, where he was a member from 1969-2004 and renowned for his fireside chats welcoming new members.
He was also president of the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce in 1976, served on the board of Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute, as chair of the Student Advisory Council at Westwood High School and as a member of the Forest Grove Middle School Student Advisory Council, has been a board member of Sun Bank (now SunTrust) and Harbor Federal Savings Bank, served on the Florida Bar Grievance Committee, and was a member of Indian River Presbyterian Church.
In recent years, Hellstrom was instrumental in the renovation and revitalization efforts to restore the Sunrise Theatre, helping to bring a cultural icon from his childhood in Fort Pierce to new life.
Hellstrom and his family were founding members of the theatre and attended many shows since its grand reopening. Hellstrom himself offered a tremendous contribution to the entertainment world, performing on his instrument of choice, the spoons, at many gatherings of friends and family.
Other hobbies included hiking outdoors and traveling, with adventures that Hellstrom relished with his family, including Disney World, the mountains, and his annual father-daughter summer trip. Everything in Hellstrom’s life was colored by his irreverent sense of humor. He had a joke for everyone and for every day, and brought joy and laughter to the people he loved, even as they surrounded him during the final days of his illness.
Hellstrom is also remembered for the many projects and tasks he completed with the structured tenet of an engineer, including his need for defined creases in his khakis pants. A former co-worker said, “I hope they have irons in heaven so Hellstrom can get creases in his robe.”
Hellstrom is survived by his loving wife of 29 years, Sandi Hellstrom, 8824 Bally Bunion Rd., Port Saint Lucie, FL 34986-3085; devoted children, Michael D. Hellstrom, M.D. (Regina), Mark D. Hellstrom (Deanna), and Lauren Alexandra Hellstrom; and grandchildren, Justin Hellstrom, Erich Hellstrom, Dylan Hellstrom, and Searlait Elizabeth Hellstrom.