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Subject: Henry Bloch, Co-Founder of H&R Block

Dies at 96
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Date Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 10:58:03am


Henry Bloch, the Kansas City philanthropist and the driving force, along with his late brother Richard, behind the H&R Block tax preparation dynasty, died Tuesday morning at age 96.

Bloch, known as a gentle and gracious man of wry humor, was surrounded by family as he died in hospice.

Born in Kansas City on July 30, 1922, his imprint on his hometown and its business, educational and artistic organizations has been incalculable. He literally changed the skyline, marshaling his fortune and influence with his namesake foundation to create the H&R Block headquarters downtown, the Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital and the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

As notable as any, Bloch was the philanthropic force behind the glass “lenses” that are the Bloch Building, the glowing and cascading modernist structure that all but floats along the east side of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Soon after its opening in 2007 a critic for The New Yorker magazine hailed the work by architect Steven Holl as “one of the best museums of the last generation.”

A collection of 29 of Bloch’s personal and nearly priceless Impressionist and post-Impressionists paintings were more recently donated to the Nelson. Visitors by the tens of thousands have since 2015 enjoyed the artwork of Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and others that once hung in the home of Bloch and his beloved late wife, Marion, who died in 2013.

Block penned a thank-you to Kansas City in 2017, only months after receiving messages of gratitude and well-wishes on 95th birthday.

“Although, appreciated, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you, Kansas City,” he wrote in a guest column in The Star. “Thank you to the people who have meant so much to me. Thank you the community that has provided me so much support. And thank you to the organizations that make this such a wonderful place to raise a family, start and grow a business and leave a legacy.”

Bloch and his younger brother, Richard Bloch, who died in 2004, started H&R Block in 1955. The idea to start his own business came to him in 1946 after he returned from World War II as an Army Air Corps navigator.

“I flew B-17s, the Flying Fortress. I flew 32 missions, mainly over Germany We bombed Berlin three times,” Bloch told The Star in 2016. “We flew three missions on D-Day and were shot up on every mission, but not on D-Day. We weren’t shot up on D-Day; that was a very easy day.”

Seeing a future in small businesses, Bloch and his older brother, Leon, borrowed $5,000 to open a small bookkeeping business on Main Street. Leon would later decide to seek a law degree. Henry and Richard joined together in the business.

“We admittedly had no idea of the success we would eventually achieve,” Bloch said in his thank-you column. “While it required a lot of hard work, we also benefited from a lot of good luck.”

Bloch long credited placing an ad for $5 tax preparation in The Kansas City Star for his initial success. The business was born.

H&R Block eventually grew to to an international business, going public in 1962. Bloch retired as the company’s chief executive officer in 1992 and as chairman of the board of directors in 2000. In 1989, he became chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer. He served as president of H&R Block from 1962 until 1988, adding the title of chief executive officer in 1974.

“If it weren’t for the Kansas Citians who supported our early efforts, H&R Block would never have become what it is today,” Bloch wrote. “We did this not because we had to, but because it was the right thing to do. We knew that business could be more than making money, but also about making a difference.”

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Subject Author Date
Younger brother Richard (co- founder of H& R Bloch) died July 21, 2004, at 78 (NT).Tuesday, April 23, 12:19:49pm
Here's a tribute video from the Kansas City StarRussTuesday, April 23, 04:50:19pm
Thanks for the tribute Chron! The Bloch brothers are local legends in K.C. (NT)RussThursday, April 25, 05:26:44am

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