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H&R Block co-founder Henry Bloch dies at 96

henry bloch.jpg
Posted at 12:59 PM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 10:22:24-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The co-founder of Kansas City-based H&R Block, Henry Bloch, died Tuesday, surrounded by family. He was 96.

Family members confirmed Bloch’s passing to 41 Action News.

On Tuesday, the Kansas City community remembered him for his generosity, service and entrepreneurship.

Before a lifetime of philanthropic efforts, Bloch co-founded H&R Block with his brother, Richard, in 1955.

It became a national brand by the 1970s, earning Bloch the nickname "America's Tax Man."

He retired as the company’s CEO in 1992, and as chairman of the board in 2000.

"Through his honesty and integrity, Henry embodied the best of American business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. In so many ways, he was ahead of his time and a model for today’s entrepreneur,” Jeff Jones, president and chief executive officer of H&R Block Inc., said in a release. “His vision lives on through our H&R Block associates and the many philanthropic organizations that he supported.”

Cultural institutions reflected Tuesday on the legacy of the titan that championed his hometown.

Bloch, who served as a navigator on 32 combat missions in World War II , was a longtime supporter of the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

"When the memorial had gone into disrepair and some deferred maintenance had caught up with memorial, he was one of those who believed in its resurrection," said Matthew Naylor, president & CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Most recently, Bloch and his foundation contributed toward a $25 million gift to the museum, which led to the new Wylie Gallery.

But his contributions went beyond the financial ones.

"The investment that he made in people, he challenged ordinary people to be extraordinary," Naylor said.

That sentiment is also felt at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

"He touched everyone's lives in the museum, and he had a word for each of them, from our guards to every person," said Julián Zugazagoitia, director and CEO of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. "He always had that right word —an encouraging word — but because of that I have never seen a team work as hard and as fast to accomplish something with the greatest excellence but in a short period of time."

That work resulted in the Bloch galleries that house Bloch's personal collection of paintings.

It was also at the museum where Bloch founded the Business Council in 1985. The council is cited as the most successful of any art museum in the country.

“This is an enormous loss to the community and to the Nelson-Atkins,” Richard C. Green, chair of the museum’s Board of Trustees, said in a release. “Henry Bloch had an unfailing vision and enthusiasm that was borne of genuine gratitude.”

Kansas City Chamber of Commerce President Joe Reardon released a statement Tuesday, saying Bloch's legacy in Kansas City will last generations.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of someone who is truly a Kansas City legend. Henry Bloch was an absolute champion of Kansas City in everything he did," Reardon said in the statement. "From business endeavors involving H&R Block, to his mentorship, to his philanthropy, and most importantly his character, he was an exceptional man."

A public memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 29, in the Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Additional information about services and the life of Bloch are available on this website.

Bloch is survived by his four children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.